Water is essential for everything we do - from having a drink, to washing our clothes, and flushing the loo. It’s also essential for a healthy environment and a prosperous economy. Many people think there’s plenty of water in the UK, but the south east of England is one of the driest parts of this country, and London gets less rain than Rome, Dallas and even Sydney. Our water supplies are being stretched as the number of people living in our area increases, at the same time as the amount of water that we can take from rivers and underground sources is getting less, due to changes in the climate and the need to protect the environment.
We need to plan ahead to make sure we can continue to provide a secure and reliable water supply. The social, economic and environmental costs of water restrictions are substantial – severe water restrictions could cost London’s economy around £330m a day. That’s more than £10 billion for a month’s interruption of water supplies.
Every five years we produce a Water Resources Management Plan, which sets out whether we have sufficient water for our customers. If there’s a deficit, the plan also sets out what we’ll do to address it.
Over the past four years we’ve been working on our draft plan which covers the next 80 years from 2020 to 2100. We forecast a significant water resources challenge in our area, and the wider south east. So it’s critically important for us to plan for the long term, because the decisions and investments we make now will determine the level of service that we can provide to our customers into the future.
We engaged with our customers while we were developing our plan, to understand their preferences for the level of water security they want, as well as the options for managing demand and providing more water, and all the factors we should consider in making these decisions.
We’ve also engaged with stakeholders to make sure we understood their views and priorities, and worked closely with other water companies in the south east to take a coordinated approach to planning for the future, and make sure that all our plans offer customers the best possible value for money.
We undertook a public consultation on our draft plan in spring 2018 and have revised our plan in response to the feedback received and in light of new information. We published our revised draft plan in October 2018 and have provided an opportunity for comment on the changes we’ve made to our draft plan.
What's our plan?
First and foremost, it’s essential that we manage our current water resources efficiently and effectively. Here’s how we’ll do this:
- Reducing leakage: An ambitious programme to cut leakage by 15 per cent by 2025 and to halve the amount of water lost through leakage by 2050.
- Metering: Continued roll out of smart meters across our region. Smart meters provide our customers with essential information to help them to understand and reduce the amount of water they use, and provide us with vital information to understand and manage our network efficiently, including pinpointing and tackling leakage. We also offer all customers a Smarter Home Visit, which provides a personalised water use audit and free installation of water saving devices best suited to their needs. By 2020, we’ll have installed over 300,000 smart meters, and we plan to install 700,000 more by 2025.
- Water efficiency: Helping our customers to use water efficiently. We’re developing new and innovative approaches to encourage wise use of water. We’ll also work with local authorities and housing developers to encourage them to build to even higher water efficiency standards, and with government to set the right framework and incentives to encourage water-efficient behaviour.