The Government is working closely with other water regulators and the water industry to improve the resilience of water supplies. The Government recognises continued action is required and it is committed to a ‘twin track approach’ of reducing demand for water and increasing supply in parallel.
Water companies have a statutory duty to provide clean and reliable water to customers under the Water Industry Act 1991. To fulfil this duty, there is a statutory requirement to maintain water resources management plans, which balance water supply and demand at least twenty-five years into the future.
The Government, Environment Agency (EA) and Ofwat issued guidance to water companies in 2016 on how they should be planning to be resilient to foreseeable risks, including taking appropriate action to respond to climate projections. Water companies are currently revising their plans.
The Government is taking steps to improve water resources planning to ensure that there is better collaboration between water companies and other water using sectors on their water supply resilience. This includes the EA developing a National Framework for water resources, which will identify high priority water users who are unable to meet their demand or are likely to need to expand and set expectations on collaboration at a regional scale. The Government has also consulted on legislative improvements to ensure that water companies’ plans are informed by effective collaboration.
The EA is also implementing the abstraction plan published in 2017. This includes work to bring together the EA, abstractors and catchment groups to develop local solutions to existing pressures and to prepare for the future.