South East water companies join forces to tackle looming shortages


Water companies in the South East have joined forces to address climate change and looming water supply shortfalls.

The scale of future water security in the region has been unveiled with the publication of the first ‘Regional Water Resources Plan’.

The plan – compiled by Water Resources South East (WRSE) – sets out the action that could be needed to avoid a potential 1billion litre per day shortfall in water supplies within the next 15 years.

It has been predicted that this figure could rise to 2.6billion per day by the year 2060.

A consultation launched on Monday also shows that by 2040, a combination of climate change and population growth could require investment of about £8billion to avoid a shortfall, increasing to £17billion by 2060.

The consultation is open until Monday, March 14 and responses will be used to develop the draft regional plan produced later in 2022.

The six regional water companies will use this to derive their own ‘Water Resource Management Plans’, published in the autumn.

WRSE says that its plan considers how water companies could reduce their reliance on sensitive sources, and identifies alternatives and reductions in how much water is used and wasted.

Between the years 2025 and 2040, actions include about £5billion of investment to reduce leakage and the development of three new reservoirs in the region to store more water.

Beyond 2040, the plan identifies moving water from different parts of the country as well as water recycling.

Chris Murray, chairman of WRSE, said: “The South East faces the most severe pressure on its water supplies of any region of the country.

“The climate emergency is and will continue to have a profound impact on our water environment, so this plan aims to mitigate that through a long-term programme of investment.”

A spokeswoman from Thames Water said: “As custodians of the environment we take our responsibility to protect and enhance it extremely seriously while also ensuring our customers have a secure water supply.

“To do both we must invest in multiple new water sources, as well as continuing to manage demand for water. We encourage people to provide their feedback.”

Lee Dance, South East Water’s head of water resources, added: “Proposals for our supply area in Maidenhead include a continued reduction in water leaks, increasing water efficiency, transferring water between companies as well as catchment management and nature-based solutions.

“We have more work to do before we publish both the final plan and then our individual plan, but we’re keen to get feedback.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We continue to work with the water industry and others to ensure we have resilient water resources for the future, including through new infrastructure, and encourage stakeholders’ feedback.”

To respond to the consultation, visit 

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