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Water Supply

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 280446, tabled on 22 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government has taken to protect future water supplies against potential disruption caused by climate change.

Answered on

30 July 2019

Water companies have a statutory duty to provide clean and reliable water to customers under the Water Industry Act 1991, whatever the weather. 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 (EA) 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 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.

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 EA 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.

Water companies have statutory drought plans in place to mitigate the impacts of prolonged dry weather and drought. Water companies are prepared for spikes in demand during high temperatures and manage their water resources to prevent impacts on customer supplies.