First up, we’re working to identify all the risks to the region’s water resources. This includes a technical assessment of them to determine the level of resilience we’ll need to plan for in the future. It also means making best use of what water is already here – from plugging more leaks to promoting more efficient usage and managing water catchments. We’ll also review the existing infrastructure across the region to see if it’s fit for purpose and what new infrastructure might be needed. Then we’ll get feedback on our initial findings from the public, businesses, official bodies and water-intensive industries.
Our response: a regional resilience plan
Meeting rising demand for water requires a more joined-up, regional approach to managing our water resources. We are delivering a regional resilience plan that will be used as a blueprint for water supply investment by the six water companies across the South East. The ultimate aim of this plan is simple: to provide an affordable, resilient and sustainable water supply that delivers for the public, industry and the natural environment for years to come.
A resilient water supply calls for a multi-sector collaborative approach
More obvious ways to better manage the region’s water resources include reducing leaks and encouraging more efficient water use. But given the scale of the challenges we face, securing that future supply of water requires a more collaborative response between the region’s water companies and other national players. Our regional resilience plan is designed to take into account the needs of all water users – ranging from the public and water-intensive industries such as agriculture and energy – as well as the natural environment too.
How we’re developing a regional resilience plan
1. Understanding where we are today
2. Taking the bigger picture into account
An effective plan has to take into account the demands of all water users, including customers, businesses and sector-specific industries. So, over the next few years we’ll be working with them all - and especially those water-intensive industries - so they can inform and influence our plan and those of their local water companies. Take agriculture for example: some businesses such as soft fruit growers understand and can forecast their future water needs clearly. Others, such as livestock farmers, are unable to articulate their future water needs as well - so we’ll be working to help them with that. And given that greater resilience in water - whether it’s a drought or flood - is also a national priority, our work will feed into the national policy debate too.
3. Finalising and putting a regional resilience plan into action
Our work and consultations will enable us to come up with a sustainable regional resilience plan. This plan will inform the Water Resource Management Plans of each member water company within the WRSE alliance. It will set out the schemes, investments and other actions which companies and other stakeholders will need to take to deliver our shared objective. It will also link with the other regional plans across England to form the national picture for water – offering a more co-ordinated regional response to events like droughts and flooding. From this point, we can start to address what solutions might be required such as managing water catchments in a different way, utilising new technology to reduce leakage further, building new reservoirs and water transfers, or more efficient irrigation by greater use of recycled water. The plan will include those solutions we feel deliver water at best value – that is, where there are wider benefits to customers, society and the environment.
Timeline of delivery
Produce our initial Future Water Resource Requirements Position Statement for the South East region
Present the Resilience Framework that will be used to develop the Regional Resilience Plan
Publish the proposed policies and preferences that will form the crux of our Regional Resilience Plan
Produce our Method Statement setting out the methodology we’ll use to develop our Regional Resilience Plan
Produce our Resilience Assessment of the whole South East region as it stands today
Update and publish our Future Water Resource Requirements Position Statement
Confirm the policies and preferences that we will embed in our Regional Resilience Plan
All five regional groups across England will reconcile their draft plans to ensure there is national alignment
Publish our draft Regional Resilience Plan for public consultation
Produce a summary of responses to our consultation on our Regional Resilience Plan and how we’ll address them
Publish a revised draft Regional Resilience Plan. Water companies will also submit their individual draft Water Resource Management Plans to Defra ahead of public consultation
Each individual water company in the region will publish their Statement of Response and a revised draft Water Resources Management Plan
WRSE will publish its final multi-sector Regional Resilience Plan and companies will publish their final Water Resources Management Plans