RAPID – regulators set out proposals to support development of regional water resources plans

Water Briefing ‘Paul Hickey, MD of the Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) has written to the water companies and regional groups about the future of water resources management in England.

Highlighting the importance of regional plans in taking the water resources national framework forward, the RAPID Chief has offered to engage with the organisations at a senior level at key points over the coming months and years to support them in carrying out the work.

The water resources national framework estimates that around 3,500 Ml/d of new capacity in England are likely to be needed between 2025 and 2050.

The letter says:

“Meeting these needs will require bold and coordinated regional plans. Every water company should be proactively engaging in this and we expect water companies to ensure that regional groups are properly resourced.”

“A framework has also been put in place to enable those leading on strategic resource schemes to buy in modelling services from the regional groups.

“Regional plans will be key to meeting future water needs – the plans must identify clearly both the regional requirements and the water resource options to meet them.”

Hickey writes that by August 2022, regulators expect to see draft regional plans that:

  • Are ambitious on the environment, including changes to water abstractions, reducing the use of drought orders and permits, and exploring opportunities todeliver wider environmental benefits.
  • Make progress on water demand management by striving to achieve per capita consumption of, on average, 110 litres per person per day by 2050while also reducing non-household demand and delivering the industry’s target to reduce leakage by 50% by 2050.
  • Explore a wide range of options to increase water availability, including reservoirs, transfers, water reuse schemes and desalination plants and arrive at a plan that delivers for customers, the regions and the nation.
  • Identify opportunities to develop and share supplies with stakeholders in other sectors and deliver broader social benefits such as reducing flood risk.

He goes on to point out that regulators already have strong links in place with the technical teams working on regional plans and the strategic schemes. However, RAPID also want to engage at a senior level at key points over the coming months and years “ to pick up and address issues early and make sure we are providing joined up leadership in our respective organisations.”

To achieve this, RAPID and its partner organisations are proposing:

  • Individual sessions with each regional group attended by regulation directors representing the relevant water companies and Ofwat’s Chief Regulation Officer, David Black. The sessions will focus on the links between regional plans and the price review process.
  • A series of sessions with the Water UK EcoReg Policy Advisory Group to focus on how to address barriers associated with shared resource schemes. These include how to allocate costs, benefits and risks across companies, customers and other stakeholders as well as how to successfully incentivise the delivery, operation and procurement of these schemes.
  • Senior sessions with the regional planning groups to hear about the development of the plans in spring of 2021 and again shortly before the first draft of the plans are published to hear how they add up and what this means for the strategic schemes and overall water company plans.

The letter says that regulators will also make senior time available to engage one to one with companies or regional groups encountering particular issues with the gated process or the development of their plans in order to identify and resolve issues early.

RAPID was established in April 2019 and brings together people from Ofwat, Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate to improve regulation and remove barriers.’

Water Resource Planning Guidelines – July 2020

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