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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Bathtime idea to beat water curbs
By Thelma Etim
BBC News

The Ban Beater siphon action device recycles grey water
The Ban Beater siphon action device recycles used water

Britain's first drought order in a decade has come into force in south-east England as summer water shortages continue.

From banning car washes to standpipes in the streets, there is a range of measures water companies can take to ensure supplies do not run out.

One man has taken matters into his own hands by creating a water recycling device.

Psychotherapist Dominic Flinton was fitting his bath when he thought of a water recycling device to beat the hosepipe bans.

Four months and three prototypes later, the siphon action device was born in a house in rural Dorset.

The 44-year-old and his friend and business partner, Peter Smith, have now sold more than 2,000 since launching their business in May.

Mr Flinton said: "The water crisis put a lot pressure on us to come up with a solution."

His device is made of recycled plastic piping and is fitted with a copper and chrome handle that is pulled to create a vacuum which siphons grey water from a bath.

Constructing and testing the prototypes became a family affair with help from Mr Flinton's elder brother Tim, and their father.

Mr Flinton, who lives in Gillingham, is now calling for water meters to become mandatory in homes across Britain to reduce wastage.

The water crisis put a lot pressure on us to come up with a solution.
Inventor Dominic Flinton

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said there is "no case for national compulsory water meters".

Mr Flinton disagrees and said: "We are not suffering yet but unless we do something drastic about this situation it could lead to people refusing to pay their water bills when they know companies are not fixing leaking water pipes.

"Everyone should have a water meter. There is a crisis already and the problem could be tackled by the government taking responsibility.

"They need to educate people making them aware of water-saving products.

"Water-saving methods should be incorporated into the school curriculum".

The Environment Agency says turning the tap off when you brush your teeth can save up to five litres of water a minute.

There is a crisis already and the problem could be tackled by the government taking responsibility
Inventor Dominic Flinton

If the adult population of England and Wales did this, it says, 180 million litres a day could be saved - enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "Water metering is a long-term tool, as is reservoir building, etc.

"To operate a water supply system which protected consumers from any impacts of drought, however rare or extreme, would place an enormous additional cost on bills.

"Our evidence is that most people would prefer to have lower bills and to tolerate the occasional restrictions necessary in drought conditions, eg., hosepipe bans, as and when the situation arises."

The Ban Beater siphon action device recycles grey water
Inventor Dominic Clinton wants people to be more informed

However, the Water Saving Group - an organisation chaired by Defra and involving Ofwat, the Consumer Council for Water and Waterwise - is examining the use of water metering in so-called "water-stressed" areas.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) recently discussed transferring water from different parts of the country - some have described it as a proposal for a national water grid.

The ICE has also recommended compulsory water metering and predicted that the water supply for more than half a million new homes in the south and east of England "will probably be inadequate without investment in new resources and measures".

Ofwat also believes there are "better options" than a grid and only advocates water metering in water stressed areas.

Mr Flinton added: "All new homes and buildings should be installed with water recycling facilities.

"It's a great political debate and I think it is going to get even hotter."

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