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Public encouraged to have their say on the future of water in their region

Across England, consultations into the future of the nation’s water supply have been launched with members of the public encouraged to give their views.

The climate emergency, population growth and increased urbanisation are putting unprecedented pressures on our environment and supply of water. It is estimated that over 4,000 million extra litres of water will be needed per day by 2050 to meet increased demand and improve the environment. That’s the equivalent of 1,600 Olympic swimming pools!

Five water resource groups (Water Resources East, Water Resources South-East, Water Resources West Country, Water Resources West, and Water Resources North), made up of water companies, environmental groups, the Environment Agency, large water users, such as energy, and agriculture and other regional stakeholders, have separately set out the challenges faced by their regions and the actions needed to tackle them.

The reports outline that half of the water needed to preserve supplies will come from water companies cutting leakage from pipes and reducing household consumption. Action on leakage and household consumption could reduce the amount taken from the environment by more than 2,000 million litres protecting chalk streams and other sensitive ecosystems.

A series of new measures are also detailed in the plans, ranging from large infrastructure projects, such as new reservoirs, to catchment and nature-based projects involving water companies and local environmental groups.

Specific supply initiatives include:

  • New reservoirs in Havant, Hampshire; Blackstone, West Sussex and Abingdon, Oxfordshire and South Lincolnshire
  • Strategic Transfers between Water Resources West and the South-East
  • Water recycling schemes in, for example, Littlehampton, West Sussex; Havant, Hampshire; Beckton, London; Peacehaven, East Sussex and Aylesford, Kent
  • The Future Fens project in the East, an integrated multi-benefit water management strategy in the Fens

Jean Spencer - Independent Chair of National Water Resources Framework Steering Group, said:

“We are facing a water crisis in this country and there is a very real risk that, without action, we will face severe water shortages in the next 30 years.

“These emerging plans are ambitious but also set out some ‘easy-wins’ that can start to make a big difference. More long-term solutions will take longer to bear fruit, but it is vital that work on them starts now.”

Everyone plays a role in protecting our water supplies and so the plans set out the importance of members of the public reducing the amount of water they use. In 2020 water companies launched the national Water’s Worth Saving campaign featuring hints and tips for people to save water in their homes.

Water companies play a vital role in reducing water wastage by tackling leakage from their networks. The regional plans set out ambitious targets to address this issue with a national goal, across all companies, to halve leakage by 2050.

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive, said:

“The future of our water supplies is foremost in the minds of water companies. Working with partners, they have set out ambitious plans to ensure we can meet the challenges of the coming decades and safeguard our water resources for future generations.

“We want as many people as possible to give their views to the consultation in their region. There is no doubting the scale of this challenge and we all have a role to play.”

Water Resources East, Water Resources West, Water Resources West Country and Water Resources North close their consultations on the emerging regional plans on 28 February. Water Resources South-East’s consultation closes on 14 March.