To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to balance the demands for water from a growing population with the amount of water in the environment that can sustainably be withdrawn as a result of the impact of climate change.
The government is working closely with other water regulators and the water industry to improve the resilience of water supplies. The government recognises continued action is required and it is committed to a ‘twin track approach’, of reducing demand for water and increasing supply in parallel.
Water companies have a statutory duty to provide clean and reliable water to customers under the Water Industry Act 1991. To fulfil this duty there is a statutory requirement to maintain water resources management plans, which balance water supply and demand at least twenty-five years into the future.
The government, the Environment Agency and Ofwat issued guidance to water companies in 2016 on how they should be planning to supply water to a growing population, while protecting and enhancing our environment, including taking appropriate action to respond to climate projections. Water companies are currently revising their plans.
The government is taking steps to improve water resources planning to ensure that there is better collaboration between water companies and other water using sectors on their water supply resilience. This includes the Environment Agency developing a National Framework for water resources, which use evidence to illustrate the regional and national challenge of water availability. The government has also consulted on legislative improvements to ensure that water companies’ plans are informed by effective collaboration.
The Environment Agency is also implementing the abstraction plan, published in 2017. This includes work to bring together the Environment Agency, abstractors and catchment groups to develop local solutions to protect and enhance the environment, and improve access to water.