The Environment Agency has published a summary of England’s draft regional and water resources management plans. It considers whether the proposed plans will secure resilient and sustainable water supplies up to 2050.

Key issues highlighted in the summary include

  • The Agency argues that “following recent droughts that some water companies are less resilient than expected”, that “faster delivery of planned abstraction reductions is needed” and that “the water industry needs to ensure appropriate consistency between water company and regional plans”.
  • The current draft water resources plans would deliver a 17% reduction in water use per person by 2037-38 from the 2019-20 baseline, lower than the 20% target in the Environment Act 2021.
  • The current draft water resources plans would deliver a 1.8% reduction in non-household (business) water consumption by 2037-38 from 2019-20 levels, much lower than the government’s 9% target.
  • The roll out of smart meters needs to happen more quickly than currently planned.
  • The draft plans include proposals by 2050 for multiple new schemes supplying 10Ml/d or more including:
    • 9 new desalination schemes
    • 9 new reservoirs
    • 11 new water recycling schemes
    • multiple new internal and inter-company transfers to share resources

Overall, the Agency believes that the “plans require further refinement and improvement to meet guidelines, legal requirements, and our expectations”.

There are also appendices with more detail on smart metering, leakage and demand reductions, and new supply options

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