In deciding on what is the best mix of options to take forward we considered cost, environmental and social impacts, resilience to cope with future changes, and any opportunities to deliver wider benefits for society.
Over the next 10 years, we propose a mix of options which include developing of new groundwater sources, transferring water from the Midlands, and a water reuse plant in east London. From the late 2030s we also propose a new reservoir in Oxfordshire.
The reservoir won’t just provide water for our customers in London and the Thames Valley, but could also supply water for the wider south east region, by storing it during times of surplus, releasing it back into the River Thames and transferring it across the region. As well as being the most cost-effective option, the reservoir would also offer other benefits, including:
- Enhancing regional resilience and connectivity.
- Facilitating economic development.
- Providing improvements in biodiversity and a regional recreational resource.
- Supporting our long-term aspiration to cease abstractions from vulnerable chalk streams.
In the longer term, if demand for water increases and climate change further reduces the amount of water we can take from the environment, the new reservoir could also help to transfer water from other areas of the country, acting as a regional strategic storage and transfer hub.
There’s recently been a lot of focus, in the water industry and more widely, on building a regional or national water network, and using this to transfer water. We’ve looked at transferring water from Wales, the Midlands and North West, and concluded that these options would be more costly than the reservoir, with additional technical issues that require further work. However, we’ll continue to study the idea of transferring water, in collaboration with other water companies. We’re confident that our plan is robust and well-balanced, but we operate in a changing world, so we know that our plan won’t remain static. We’ll review our plan every 5 years, to ensure it continues to reflect the evolving needs of our customers and the environment.
Water Resources Management Plan.
Every five years we produce a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) setting out how we will maintain a sustainable balance between water supplies and demand over the next 25 years, as a minimum. In February 2018 we published our draft plan (WRMP19), which sets out how we plan to provide a secure and sustainable supply of water for our customers over the next 80 years, from 2020 to 2100.
We ran a public consultation from 9 February to 29 April 2018 to get feedback on our draft plan. We published a report on 3 October 2018 setting out the comments we received and explaining how we’ve taken these into account, as well as new information, in revising our draft plan. We are holding a further consultation on the changes made to our draft plan for eight weeks, from 3 October to 28 November 2018. The report on the consultation and the revised draft plan has been sent to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to everyone who participated in the consultation and published on our website here.