Industry regulator Ofwat has called on water companies around the UK to improve their draft water resource management plans (WRMPs) to secure reliable water services in the future through more creative and innovative thinking and ideas.
These draft WRMPs set out how each water company plans to meet water needs between now and 2050, while protecting the natural environment. The plans would see an increase in infrastructure delivery to prioritise supply and manage demand, but Ofwat is keen to see changes in the approach in order to deliver best possible customer value.
The plans are updated by water suppliers every five years, setting out how water resources in every catchment area are managed and developed, with the aim being to ensure a secure and reliable water supply over a period of 25 years.
This feedback from the regulator means that companies must now make improvements to the final documents, which are due to be published this autumn.
What are water resource management plans?
Effective planning for water resources is essential to ensure that a balance can be maintained over the long term between supply and demand. Every five years, the plans set out what companies intend to do for at least the next 25 years.
For the 2024 round of plans, the approaches will be supplemented by five regional water resource plans covering the whole of England and parts of Wales.
Ofwat acknowledges that there is growing pressure now being put on the water industry, with challenges including population growth, the desire to reduce water abstraction and the risks posed by climate change.
In order to tackle these head on, both companies and regional planning groups will be working to find ways in which they can successfully reduce demand and increase supplies at the same time.
However, there are also opportunities ahead for suppliers, as well as challenges, such as finding more efficient ways of delivering benefits via water trading or third parties.
But it’s not just about operating in a more cost-effective way and Ofwat is keen to stress that making the best use of resources is also essential, helping to improve resilience, drive innovation and deliver wider benefits and value for the general public.
Commenting on the plans due to be published later this year, Ofwat CEO David Black said: “Customers depend on companies to provide reliable water supplies. This requires companies to prepare properly for population growth and the impact of climate change.
Measures being considered in this latest round of plans includes cutting leakage rates, promoting water recycling, developing new reservoirs, delivering operational improvements and new water transfers between companies.
Businesses can do their part as there are now many different business water suppliers in the UK to enable them to switch water supplier for a better deal, and to engage in water efficiency, identifying water leaks and by carrying out water audits which will identify water and waste water saving opportunities great for business and our environment.