The Environment Agency has launched a consultation on how it determines water-stress in England.
The purpose of updating the existing list of areas designated as water-stressed is to inform which water companies must consider new options to balance supply and demand as part of their next Water Resources Management Plans (WRMPs).
The consultation (ending 11:45pm on 11 March 2021) is focused solely on the public water supply sector and the EA's proposed determination is designed to inform water companies on whether they should consider the option of charging by metered volume for all customers – in other words compulsory metering for households.
Although the proposed changes have no direct implications for agricultural, the NFU position as stated in our response to Defra proposals to reduce personal water use is that household water metering should be compulsory everywhere.
The new areas proposed in the consultation and identified as being under serious water-stress are those falling under the responsibility of:
- Severn Trent Water,
- South Staffordshire Water,
- Wessex Water,
- Portsmouth Water,
- Cambridge Water,
- an area of South West Water,
- the Isles of Scilly.
If formally determined by Defra ministers, these would be added to the list of areas already designated as water-stressed and managed by: Anglian Water, Affinity Water, Essex and Suffolk Water. South East Water, SES Water, Southern Water and Thames Water.
The Agency’s proposed reassessment links into the National Framework for Water Resources (published in 2020) and includes latest thinking on long-term water availability to 2050, environmental needs including chalk streams, impacts of climate change and population growth, the impact of the proposed 1:500 year level of resilience in public water supplies, together with planned water efficiency and leakage improvements.
The consultation runs until 11 March.