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Running on empty

How much of your school budget goes down the boys' toilets? Are you nurturing a hidden bog garden under the chemistry labs? Are your water bills too high?

Now you can find out without resorting to expensive surveys. Watermark, an initiative of the Office of Government Commerce in the Treasury, is creating an online database. It collects information from schools and other public-sector organisations and calculates benchmarks of their water consumption. The free service also provides advice on cutting water bills.

Watermark has calculated that schools spend pound;90m a year on water and sewerage. A study of 10,000 schools has estimated that they could save pound;6.5m - a potential pound;20m nationwide.

Jim Parkinson, Watermark's project manager, says that the biggest wastage is through leaking pipes. Try taking meter readings at the beginning and end of the summer holidays - if water is flowing, you've probably got a leak.

Automatic-flush urinals account for between 15 and 20 per cent of wastage. Canteens and showers can often use more water than they need.

Watermark can supply advice and "walk-round guides" to help you develop a water-saving strategy for your school. The Climate Change Levy, effective from last month, means schools will need to save as much as theycan on utility services.

Watermark hopes that as many schools as possible will enter their water bill data on the website so that it can build up a clear national picture and spread understanding ofwater-saving.

Sue Jones vin mag archive Watch the wind: the turbine at Skegness grammar school does not save much money - it's more a symbol of the school's commitment to sustainability TES SCHOOL MANAGER may 18J2001 6 energy conservation 17 = photograph: steve hill may 18J2001 TES school manager viewpoint Windmills Phil Revell 01952 882055 FAX - 01952 883855 mobile - 07977 939954 - 'Fast-trackers can be expected to benefit from more challenging and wide-ranging development linked to equally ambitious objectives' Watermark Create, a not-for-profit organisation, partly funded by government to promote energy education and sustainable development. 01942 322271 School Energy , a trust funded by government and industry to promote energy saving. Cash rebates available to schools for energy-saving measures. 0870 7000 457 Eco Schools The Wolfson Foundation 020 7323 5730 The British Wind Energy Association APEX Engineering Makes Eco Warrior 01630 661313

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