Colossal bath makes a splash in Hitchin

Cllrs Keith Hoskins, Paul Clark and Steve Jarvis at Affinity Water's SOS bathtub in Market Place, Hitchin

Cllrs Keith Hoskins, Paul Clark and Steve Jarvis at Affinity Water's SOS bathtub in Market Place, Hitchin - Credit: Affinity Water

An enormous bathtub has taken up residence in Hitchin's Market Place to raise awareness of water waste.

The tub, which stands at around 125 times the size of a regular bath and can hold 10,000 litres of water, has been plonked in the heart of the town to highlight Hitchin's water wasting habits.

The show-stopping basin was commissioned by local water supplier Affinity Water, as part of its SOS: Save Our Streams campaign. 

The campaign highlights the issue of water waste to Hitchin residents, who are using 148.29 litres of water per capita, which is over six litres or 4.4 per cent more than the national average of 142. 

Affinity Water’s team are encouraging visitors to the tub to reduce water wastage in their homes and gardens, and join forces to protect the UK’s chalk streams.

Speaking to the Comet at the tub, Cllr Paul Clark said: "As councillors, we're well aware of the issue, especially in areas like Oughtonhead, where they've been taking [water] out. 

"This will help bring home to residents and visitors the need to preserve our chalk streams, of which a lot of them are around this area. It's making them aware of the water shortage - it's a global issue. It's raising the awareness and educating people going forward. It is welcome that Affinity are doing this."

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Town centre manager Tom Hardy added: "I think we do appreciate the streams we have in the town centre. Oughtonhead and the rivers that run through the town centre; these are ancient chalk streams and they do need protecting.

"We've done a lot of work with Herts Highways and Hertfordshire County Council on opening up a river walkway connecting Bridge Street to Hermitage Road so people can really appreciate our streams a lot more and see it as a tourist attraction."

Cllr Clark continued: "During lockdown, people have been out and enjoyed nature and the natural environment - which are the streams, the rivers, the walkways - we've got to protect them so they're there not just for our generation, but for generations to come.

"Water is a scarce resource. We've got to not waste it."

Coined ‘Britain’s Great Barrier Reef’, chalk streams - which boast clear water from underground springs - are more endangered than both the Bengal tiger and black rhino.

Now at risk due to unsustainably high demand for water, 71 per cent of Affinity Water customers have stated that they interested in reducing water use at home. The new SOS: Save Our Streams campaign aims to support them with tailored water saving advice.

To help the people of Hitchin and beyond tackle their water wasting habits, Affinity Water have created saveourstreams.co.uk, which provides advice to help people waste less water.

Andy Harrison, the event manager of the SOS campaign, said: "The bathtub is all about raising awareness that the water people use in their homes come directly from our natural environment, which includes the really rare chalk streams, of which we have an abundance around the Affinity Water region.

"We're trying to get people to understand how much water they use, and help them reduce demand for water in the local area so we can take less from the chalk stream."

Cllr Graham McAndrew, chair of the of the Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership (HCCSP) said: “We wholeheartedly encourage residents and businesses to support Affinity Water’s campaign to Save Our Streams.

"Two key priorities for HCCSP are addressing biodiversity and water sustainability and the partnership is working across Hertfordshire on joint Strategic Action Plans to tackle specific county wide issues in these two areas.

“The demand for water is rising but you can play a part in reducing the burden. We can all make a difference by using a little less water at home or at work. If we do, it’ll all add up and we can help protect our local environment in Hertfordshire.”

For more information about Affinity Water's SOS: Save Our Streams campaign, and to sign up to their water saving dashboard, visit saveourstreams.co.uk.

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