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Supply meets demand

In the final stages of delivering a £28 million resilience scheme for Grafham Water Treatment Works
Formed a new Strategic Planning team to collaborate with planners, regulators and others to meet future demand and ensure that growth is manageable and sustainable

Our services play a key role in enabling the growth of our region and we need to meet the increasing demand for water and water recycling that growth brings. We must also take account of the changing climate, be prepared for future droughts and ensure that our environment is protected.

Throughout 2017/18 we have been preparing our draft Water Resource Management Plan (WRMP), which outlines how we will maintain a sustainable balance between water supplies and demand over the next 25 years. This will need a range of different measures, including more efficient water use in homes and businesses, new sources of water for treatment and supply, and more transfers between areas with surplus resources to areas with deficits.

Our WRMP sets out an ambitious, cost-beneficial demand management strategy to ensure the reliability, sustainability and affordability of water resources over the long term. We put the plan out for consultation between March and June, asking for feedback on our approach to: growth; demand management; metering; and the scale and timing of investment needed to increase our resilience to the impacts of climate change, drought and environmental regulations.

It is likely that companies will need to make further reductions to the amount of water they abstract from rivers and groundwaters in 2025, to reduce their impact on the environment. However, the size of these reductions is not yet clear, so our WRMP looks at different scenarios to take account of the uncertainty. In the worst case, we may need a new winter storage reservoir or other, similarly strategic assets, and our plan gives details of the work we are doing to assess these options.

Alongside the draft WRMP, we have also been preparing our first Water Recycling Long-Term Plan. This will improve our understanding of what is needed to protect this vital service from the risks of climate change, severe flooding and strategic growth. The work has been well received by the Environment Agency (EA) and by local authorities. We will now be consulting on the document to make sure it meets the needs of our partners.

Our region is already the fastest growing outside of London. We have a statutory duty to provide water and water recycling services to new homes and businesses. To better meet this challenge, we have formed a new Strategic Planning team, bringing together legal and planning expertise. The team has been working closely with local planning authorities, developers, the Environment Agency and others to better understand and influence the timing and scale of growth.

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Construction of storage reservoir as part of the Grafham Water resilience scheme