The Environment Agency has published  a review of England’s revised draft regional and water resources management plans, to identify whether the plans proposed by water companies will secure resilient and sustainable water supplies up to 2050.

The Agency found nearly 5bn litres per day, which is more than a third of the 14bn litres of water currently put into public supply, will be needed by mid-decade. It explained that the deficit had risen (from c4bn litres a day) due to updated demand forecasts, additional reductions associated with protecting and improving the environment, and better representation of the baseline supply position without drought measures included.

The Agency welcomed “significant improvements” in the plans compared with earlier versions, including that the industry now pitched to exceed the Environment Act 2021 target to cut the use of water per head by 20% by 2038. The latest plans would deliver a 22% cut, up from 17% in the earlier drafts. But it called on firms to deliver the demand reduction and leakage promises, including by ceasing the rollout of any dumb meter so smart meters are prioritised.

On supply, the summary shared that the plans contain proposals for multiple new schemes by 2050 that will supply 10m litres of water per day or more, including: four new desalination schemes, seven new reservoirs, five new water recycling schemes and multiple new internal and inter-company transfers.

The Agency commented: “The inclusion of options such as desalination and water recycling mark a transition to new supplies that are independent from rainfall. These options are well established elsewhere around the world and expected to be an important step in ensuring resilient supplies in a changing climate.”

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