To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with water companies on the adequacy of future supplies; and if she will make a statement.
The Environment Agency is the statutory body which has a duty to secure the proper and efficient use of water resources in England and Wales and it advises the Secretary of State accordingly. Each water company in England and Wales produces a water resources plan setting out how it proposes to maintain the supply and demand balance of water for the next 25 years. The plans are assessed by the Environment Agency and reviewed annually.
The plans were updated as part of the recent periodic review of water company prices. The agency reported to Ministers, in July 2004, on these plans in "Maintaining Water Supply", which is available on its website.
The agency concluded that all water companies should be able to meet their customers' needs in the short term, although some companies need to work quickly to address security of supply issues. It believes that greater attention to demand management measures could offset the need, identified by some companies, for new or enlarged reservoirs that are expensive and potentially damaging to the environment.