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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what long-term planning to take account of (a) climate change and (b) development of new water resources is (i) in place and (ii) planned in order to tackle the risk of water shortages.
The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. As part of the agency's management role it has national and regional water resource strategies which set out the pressures over the next 25 years.
Water companies have duties to maintain adequate supplies of water. They have 25 year water resource plans which complement the agency strategies and seek to reconcile supply with anticipated demand. The Environment Agency issues guidance to water companies on how the implications of climate change should be factored in to their water resource plans. The plans are assessed by the Environment Agency and reviewed annually. They are produced voluntarily at present but will become a statutory requirement under the provisions of the Water Act 2003.
Each water company also has a drought plan which sets out how the company will continue to meet its duties to supply adequate quantities of wholesome water during drought periods with as little recourse as possible to drought orders and permits. These too are produced voluntarily at present but regulations are now in place making their production a statutory requirement as part of the implementation of the Water Act 2003.