Thames Water is holding a public consultation on a proposed strategic plan for future water supply, the draft Water Resources Management Plan 2024, which opens today. The draft plan sets out the ‘big picture’ on how Thames Water intends to plan ahead for the next 50 years. It explains how the water company will provide a secure and sustainable water supply for the increasing population in the South East region; protect against the growing risk of drought and water shortages; and, improve the environment. The consultation will run for fourteen weeks until 21 March 2023.
Substantial water shortages face the whole of the South East of England. The extreme heat and lack of water we experienced this summer is a clear indication of climate emergency first-hand. The predicted regional water demand is set to increase, with the number of people living and working in London and the Thames Valley forecast to grow significantly. Every day, Thames Water currently supplies around 2.6 billion litres of water to customers across London and the Thames Valley. This is enough to fill 1,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. The company forecasts that it will need an extra 1 billion litres of water every day for customers by 2075 to accommodate climate change and population growth.
The draft plan – which proposes investment of up to £13 billion between 2025 and 2050 - sets out strategic options to build in future resilience for the benefit of customers, their children, grandchildren and the environment. It spells out the challenges faced and the planned actions to maintain the balance between water supply and demand.
Even though the plan requires an ambitious reduction in leakage, and for customers to help reduce consumption, new sources of water still need to be found. This plan considers options, including a new abstraction in Teddington supported by water recycling, a new reservoir in Oxfordshire, and schemes to share water across the South East including a new water transfer from the River Severn.
Across the region more than 1,400 options were considered to plug the shortfall between the amount of water in the region and the amount of water needed. Each option was assessed on water output, impact on the environment, carbon budget, delivery timeline and ability to build in future resilience.
Thames Water customers, community groups, businesses, academics, charities and other organisations are being invited to feedback on the draft Water Resources Management Plan. The consultation asks for feedback on the big decisions on the regional water challenges, including planning and building new water resources infrastructure that could take many years before they’re ready to provide water.
Thames Water has developed its plan by working collaboratively with Water Resources South East (WRSE) and neighbouring water companies to coordinate a regional response. This collaborative approach has allowed Thames Water to look beyond its boundary and play its part in supporting the regional plan in order to deliver the most benefit across the South East for the long term.
Nevil Muncaster, Strategic Resources Director at Thames Water, said: “Our plan sets out how we will meet the water resource challenge in the future through a combination of fixing leaks more rapidly, making the way that we use water more efficient and by investment in new infrastructure to meet future needs.
“Working together we can achieve this, and we call on government too, to recognise and support the urgent need for this nationally critical infrastructure as part of these plans. Projects like the Thames Tideway tunnel which is well on the way to delivering a long and lasting legacy for London and the Thames demonstrates that we have all the necessary skills to deliver major projects on time, to budget and with the community.”
Over the next 14 weeks, consultation events for the public will be taking place across the region including community information events in Cirencester, Abingdon, Richmond and Steventon as well as briefings.
Consultation feedback received will be carefully considered by the company. In June 2023, it will be sent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of Thames Water’s submission to the Government for approval of the draft Water Resources Management Plan 2024.
To access the consultation please go to www.thames-wrmp.co.uk