Water Resource Management Plans

Water companies in England and Wales must produce a water resources management plan (WRMP) every 5 years. This is a statutory process introduced by the Water Act 2003. All UK water companies last submitted Water Resource Management Plans in 2014. During the last plan preparation period, data from the south east water companies was input to the WRSE computer model, enabling results to be incorporated into each of the WRSE company’s plans. This process is now underway for the 2019 WRMP submission.

In developing their plans, companies must follow the Water Resources Planning Guidelines issued by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales. Defra and the Welsh Government have also provided Guiding Principles for companies to follow when developing their plans.

WRMPs are prepared at a water company level. A WRMP sets out how a water company intends to provide a secure supply of water to their customers over a 25-year period, at an affordable price without damaging the environment.

WRMPs present forecasts of supply and demand and consider options that:

  • Ensure a secure supply of water
  • Are resilient to change
  • Meet customer demand.


If water supplies don’t meet demand, water companies might consider solutions such as:

  • reducing leaks
  • finding new resources – such as reservoirs
  • transferring in water from other areas
  • changes to the service customers receive – such as a change to the frequency of hosepipe bans
  • increased metering, including compulsory metering.

Not all solutions are right for each area. Water companies must show they’ve considered the impact of their proposals on customers and the environment. The government also asks water companies to develop options with wider shared benefits. This is where Water Resources in the South East (WRSE) fits in, by working together to find and share both existing and new sources of water, to ensure the security of supplies in the long term.

Water companies set out the costs and benefits of their options to balance supply and demand in their WRMP. Water companies each consult on their draft plans and customers can comment on them. View Timetable.

Water companies are expected to integrate their WRMP processes into their mainstream business planning. Water company business plans set out what each company hopes to achieve in the following five years, and how all the costs involved are to be paid for. Ofwat is the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales and sets the price limits that water companies can charge their customers for water. Ofwat decides what customers pay for each of the five years to ensure prices stay fair and affordable.