As the UK events industry enters what could be its busiest ever summer, several water companies have announced hosepipe bans and drought restrictions. Yet providing clean and safe drinking water at festivals is arguably one of the most critical factors for organisers. Forget the big name acts, the big wheels and the fireworks – without a certified supply of wholesome drinking water a festival’s doors will not open.
The huge issue with this is that most festivals tend to take place on green-field sites, areas of land that offer very little by way of permanent infrastructure. There may be a small mains supply available, but in most instances this simply does not provide the levels required. Even on urban sites, the mains supply may still be inadequate or unsuitably located for the needs of the event, so the only answer is to use temporary alternative supplies.
Keith Silcock, Managing Director of specialist supplier Water Direct, says that more than ever, organisers need to check their advance planning and contact their local water company for advice. His company specialises in supplying many festivals and events with the right quantities of clean water required. Speaking to Event Industry News, Keith said: “We’ve worked in the events industry for over 10 years and we still have organisers who don’t give their water supply the appropriate consideration until the last minute.”
Highlighting the recent media coverage of hosepipe bans, Keith offered some clarification to organisers who may be concerned about the effects on their events. “We need to be clear that the hose-pipe ban affects the use of water that could be deemed wasteful or unnecessary. Standpipes at festivals are there to provide water for drinking, cooking and hygiene, so do not come under the hosepipe ban. There may be restrictions regarding the use of a mains supply on a site, but again, it’s important that organisers are in contact with the relevant water company to check.”
The three key components of providing an alternative water supply to an event are storage, distribution and replenishment. However, running through all of these is the one most crucial element, and that is the quality of the actual water. Keith says that working with environmental health officers (EHO) has become easier once they see that we are focused on quality assurance, especially as Water Direct services many of the same sites year after year.
“The EHO of a local authority has the final say on whether an event can go ahead so the water quality must be acceptable. Having worked on events for so long, organisers know that we can be trusted to work with the EHO’s without the need for them to be overly hands-on, leaving them with one less thing to worry about.”
Turning Up the Volume
Even with just a few months to go, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty among event suppliers as to how much extra business will be done over the coming summer. With tenders still out for Olympic contracts and many related and peripheral events slowly coming together, some suppliers are in limbo, making it difficult to predict required stock and staffing levels. Having moved a record volume of water in their tankers during 2011, Keith says that planning for 2012 was done almost a year in advance, with Water Direct gradually increasing their resources to accommodate the additional work.
“We’ve geared up to service a larger events market because, from our point of view, that is the sensible thing to do,” said Keith. “We want to be able to service our existing customers whilst taking advantage of the additional opportunities that will be available during 2012. “
In anticipation of a busy summer, Keith also pointed out that to deliver a temporary supply of water to a festival, their staff are required to undergo a minimum of three months quality, hygiene and operational training.
“Festival organisers need to be aware that in order to work for a water supply company, staff have to receive and pass the necessary training”, said Keith. “This is another reason why they should not leave their water planning too late. Giving us two weeks notice in a year when festival and event staff are already stretched is no good. To service an event correctly, we not only need the right amount of equipment but also the right amount of correctly trained personnel with ample notice from our customers.”
Category: Event Production Features and Advice