From Waterbriefing

On 17 January 2022 regional water resources groups, made up of water companies and other water users and stakeholders, launched 5 emerging regional water resources plans for consultation.

Introducing the review, the Agency said:

“We are now at a pivotal point of opportunity for water resources management. In March 2020, the Environment Agency published the National Framework for Water Resources. This marked a move to strategic regional planning. It set out the long-term water needs for England. ….

“The decisions made now on these plans are the most important in a generation.”

In summary, the review says that the regional groups are:

  • proposing demand management options and new water infrastructure solutions to tackle the forecast water supply deficit
  • planning changes that will leave more water in the environment, although the approach to this varies between regions
  • starting to work with other sectors and looking wider than public water supply

However, the EA says the review shows the regional groups have challenges to overcome, and expectations to meet, before consultation on the draft final regional plans in autumn 2022, commenting:

“The emerging plans did not all show detailed proposals of potential solutions. And the planned environmental enhancements were variable and did not meet our expectations in some places.”

However, the Agency goes on to acknowledge that the review discusses what was presented for public consultation in January and that the groups may have acted on feedback from itself and other stakeholders since then. The regional groups have continued to develop their plans between the January consultation and publication of the report.

The emerging regional plans show that, by 2050, England may need around 4,000 million litres per day (Ml/d) of extra water available for public water supplies.

The Environment Agency and its fellow regulators, including Ofwat, have all responded individually to the emerging regional plans.

The draft final regional plans will be consulted on in autumn 2022, alongside the statutory water resources management plans.

Click here to access the Environment Agency Review online

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