Public Documents

Like to find out more?

Here you can access documents and reports on the activities of the WRSE Group, and papers on the future of water management and the natural environment.

Water Resources South East (WRSE) has published its Future Water Resource Requirements for South East England. This document sets out our current forecast of how much additional water will be needed between 2025 and 2100 to secure resilient and sustainable water supplies for the region. It considers the future requirements for both public water supply (provided by the six South East water companies) and other major water users in the region, namely industry, agriculture and electricity generation companies.

To respond to the Future Water Resource Requirements for South East England document please fill out this feedback form by 17 April 2020

The Programme Management Board (PMB) – the decision-making group for all WRSE’s technical work and comprised of the water resource leads in each of the region’s six water companies – has developed a comprehensive programme of work that will be delivered over the next three years to underpin WRSE’s regional resilience plan. To-date, the following invitations to tender have been issued:

o Scoping for the Regional Simulation Model – undertaken by Atkins: ITT [link] .
o Regional Growth Forecast – currently being undertaken by Edge Analytics: ITT [link].
o Scoping for the Regional Investment Model – undertaken by HR Wallingford and Decision Lab: ITT [link].
o Third Party Options – currently being undertaken by Mott MacDonald: ITT [link].
o Environmental Appraisal Scoping – currently being undertaken by Ricardo and Atkins: ITT [link].

Ofwat’s new Gated Process

Water companies have proposed various assessment programmes to meet their future supply demand balance challenges, to ensure resilient supplies, during severe and extreme droughts. These challenges will only increase due to climate change, population growth, environmental requirements and societal expectations.

Ofwat have reviewed the various proposed investment plans to meet these challenges as part of the initial assessment of business plans (IAP) for the Periodic Review 2019.  As part of their response they have proposed a new process which will allocate up to £358m to particular water companies to investigate, plan and develop several strategic regional options (reservoir, effluent reuse, transfers, desalination) to identify the regional optimum solutions and ensure they are construction ready.

Since February 2019 Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water, Southern Water, Thames Water and United Utilities have worked together to develop a set of proposals that seek to address the potential challenges associated with the promotion of the strategic regional solutions, as set out in Ofwat’s initial assessment of plans. The group of companies have collaborated to develop a set of principles, working documents and discussion papers which demonstrate how the gated process would work for the promotion of a regional scheme.  As three of these ‘Gated Process’ companies are part of the WRSE, the group has played a key role in facilitating discussions and ensuring a cohesive way of working.

The group of companies have written a summary of the work done to date and the proposed future plans.

The WRSE responded to the Defra consultation: improving our management of water in the environment

This consultation opened on 15 Jan and closed on 12 Mar 2019.   Defra are asking for responses to its suggestions of modernising regulation to enable better long-term planning and give regulators the powers that they need to improve water environment and water services.  The WRSE considered the questions and submitted its response to questions 1-10.  Here is a copy of the WRSE response.

In March 2019, the WRSE responded to the EFRA Committee Inquiry: Draft National Policy Statement for Water Resource Infrastructure

The EFRA Committee sought evidence on the Government’s draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for Water Resources Infrastructure, which sets out the government’s policy for development of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) for water resources in England. The final NPS will be used as the primary basis for decisions on development consent applications relating to water resources NSIPs.

Here is a copy of the WRSE response.


Feb 2019: Welcome to the first edition of the newsletter from Water Resources South East (WRSE).  This publication is reflective of the group’s ambitions and future direction of travel to make the South East region more resilient when it comes to all things water. Inside you’ll find lots of news and updates about who we are, and what we are doing to deliver the water sector’s ambitions.

We’d love to hear your views about this newsletter or, if you have any news you think we should be covering or want to find out more about our work, then please get in touch at

The WRSE’s “From Source to Tap: The south east strategy for water

This document showcases the ground-breaking collaboration and technical work to develop an affordable, sustainable and resilient regional strategy for water – one that delivers for customers, society and the environment. Much of the south east region is officially designated as being in serious water stress. It’s also a region where there are potentially greater pressures and challenges than those faced by other regions in the UK – more people in expanding towns and cities; relatively low rainfall but higher water use by people; and environmental pressures to keep more water in its natural home e.g. our rivers, rare chalk streams and underground aquifers.

The State of the Environment: Water Resources

The Environment Agency has published this document, published in May 2018 provides an overview of England’s water resources in 2018. It presents information on trends in effective rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels, water available for abstraction, wetland extent and condition, lakes and ponds. Current and future pressures are also considered.

The State of the Environment: Water Resources Report.pdf

The National Infrastruture Commission’s national needs assessment for water resources

The National Infrastructure Commission has released its assessment on the water infrastructure needs of the nation: Preparing for a drier future: England’s water infrastructure needs.   It raises awareness of the potential interruption to water supply and sets out a range of measures which it believes government, water companies and the regulator should take to increase investment in supply infrastructure and encourage more efficient use of water.  As the cost of responding to a severe drought in the UK would likely run into tens of billions of pounds, the case for a pro-active approach to improving our long-term resilience to drought is more than compelling.  The recommended measures include:

  • Ofwat should launch a competitive process by end of 2019 so at least 1,300 Ml/day is provided through (i) a national water network and (ii) additional supply infrastructure by the 2030s
  • Defra should set a target to halve leakage by 2050, with Ofwat
  • Defra should enable compulsory metering beyond water stressed areas by the 2030s

The State of the Environment: Water Quality

The Environment Agency has published this document, published in February 2018 provides an assessment of water quality in England. It presents information on water quality status and trends and discusses current and future pressures.

The State of the Environment: Water Quality Report.pdf

Defra’s A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment

This publication is a government policy paper which sets out goals for improving the environment, within a generation. It details how those in government will work with communities and business to do this.

The goal of clean and plentiful water is an integral part of the 25-year plan. Alongside the plan, three technical annexes have been published.

The Plan sits alongside two other important government strategies: the Industrial Strategy and the Clean Growth Strategy.

Defra 25 year Environment Plan.pdf

Industrial Strategy White Paper.pdf

Clean Growth Strategy.pdf

The Government’s Strategic Priorities for Ofwat

The statement sets out the government’s priorities for Ofwat’s regulation of the water sector in England.

The strategic policy statement came into force on 22 November 2017. This replaces the previous SPS which was published in March 2013.

Strategic Priorities and Objectives for Ofwat 2017.pdf

Water Abstraction Plan 2017

The html documents published on the .gov website set out what the government is doing to reform the management of water abstraction. The abstraction plan document summarises all the changes that are planned. It should be read alongside the more detailed documents covering environment, catchment focus and abstraction licensing service. The timeline is available as a pdf document.

Link to Government Water Abstraction Plan 2017

Catchment Reform Timeline.pdf

Enabling Resilience in the Water Sector

This document, produced by Defra in March 2016 sets out how Defra intends to enhance the policy framework to secure the long-term resilience of the water sector, helping to deliver a cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy.

This is part of a much broader programme of work to adapt to the changing climate. In 2017 a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment was published to make sure that essential services and infrastructure (including water supplies) are ready to cope with potential changes.

Defra Enabling Resilience in the Water Sector.pdf

Improving Resilience in the Water Sector

Written in 2015, this advice report sets out information to support Defra in delivering the Water White Paper commitments related to assessing future needs for water resilience and associated strategic water infrastructure. The review is focussed on supply pressures associated with severe and extreme droughts, although it does note some non-drought hazards.

EA Defra Improving Resilience in the Water Sector

Water Resources Long Term Planning Framework

This report, published in July 2016, was commissioned by Water UK after the government asked water companies in 2015 to look at the long term resilience of water resources in England and Wales. It presents the results of research into drought risk carried out by independent consultants and peer reviewed by leading experts in water resources, climate change and environmental management. The report breaks new ground by deploying new modelling techniques and by looking 50 years ahead across the whole of England and Wales.

Water Resources Long Term Planning Framework.pdf

WRMP19 Methods – Risk Based Planning

Water resources management plans are increasingly being developed using more risk-based approaches. These will allow practitioners to better understand the current and future drought risks that they face, and create stronger links between WRMPs and drought plans.

UKWIR has published guidance on new methods and techniques that can be used for decision making in water resource planning.

UKWIR WRMP19 Methods – Risk Based Planning.pdf

Water Resources Planning Guidelines

The water resource planning guidelines issued in May 2016, issued by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales in combination with Defra, the Welsh Government and Ofwat.

Water Resources Planning Guideline.pdf

Guiding Principles for Water Resources Planning

This document, produced by Defra in May 2016 is aimed at water companies operating wholly or mainly in England. It explains the key policy priorities the government expects water resources management plans to address.

Guiding Principles for Water Resource Planning.pdf

Managing Water Abstraction

The latest climate change predictions show that pressure on water resources is likely to increase in the future. This edition of Managing Water Abstraction (2016) sets out how the Environment Agency manage water resources in England. It explains the technical, legal and policy requirements behind the abstraction licensing strategies.

Managing Water Abstraction.pdf

An overview of the WRSE

This document gives an overview to the WRSE, outlining its history, purposes and its aims and objectives.

An Overview to the WRSE.pdf

Recovery following the 2012 Drought

This eight-page newsletter provides a summary of how water resources have recovered in the south east following the drought in the early part of 2012 and details how the region’s water companies are working together to build-in greater resilience.

Water Resource Update pdf

2012 Drought Summary

This ten-page pamphlet provides a useful summary of the drought affecting the south east in spring 2012 and describes what the WRSE companies are doing to safeguard future supplies.

Water Resource Update pdf

Water for Life

Published in 2011, Water for Life describes a vision for future water management in which the water sector is resilient, in which water companies are more efficient and customer-focused, and in which water is valued as the precious and finite resource it is.

PDF Download

The Natural Choice

Published in June 2011, The Natural Choice is the first White Paper on the natural environment in more than 20 years. The proposals set out a detailed programme of action to repair damage done to the environment in the past, and urges everyone to get involved in helping nature to flourish at all levels, from neighbourhoods to national parks.

PDF Download

WRSE Memorandum of Understanding

This document sets out the objectives, principles and commitments that the members of the WRSE Group will make during the period 2011 to 2015 to determine a water resources strategy, which will contain a range of strategic options to find the best solutions for customers and the environment in the south east of England.


WRSE Modelling Project

PowerPoint presentation made to stakeholders in January 2012.

WRSE Modeling Project

2009 WRSE Final Report

Written jointly by the Environment Agency and the seven member companies of WRSE, this report summarises the outcome of the last phase of modeling work completed in autumn 2009.

WRSE Final Report

Competition and innovation in the water markets (Cave Review)

An independent review of competition and innovation in water markets between March 2008 and April 2009.

PDF Download

Assessment of regulatory barriers and constraints to effective interconnectivity of water supplies – WT0921, September 2010 (Atkins)

An evidenced and objective risk-based assessment of the potential barriers and constraints imposed by the current regulatory and planning regimes to the development and implementation of interconnectivity and sharing of water resources in England.

PDF Download

Changing course through water trading, June 2011 (Ernst & Young)

How water trading can make a contribution to solving future water scarcity to the benefit of customers and the environment.

PDF Download

Environment Agency Report: Drought Prospects Report, Spring/Summer 2012

Describes potential rainfall scenarios and recommends actions for the Environment  Agency, farmers, water companies and other abstractors.

PDF Download

Adapting to Climate Change; UK Climate Projections

The UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) are an important step forward in improving understanding of our complex climate. There are assumptions and uncertainties in any work of this kind, but these Projections represent strong and credible climate science. They begin to quantify the uncertainties we face and so will help us to understand the risks that lie ahead.

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