The Water Industry National Environment Programme To Be Reviewed
Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the government have announced that the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) is set to be reviewed, part of a new programme of reform to build back greener after the covid-19 crisis.
These reforms will set out the ambition for a water industry that delivers for the environment, customers and wider society, reflecting the government’s aims for clean and plentiful water, with the 25 Year Environment Plan set to be enshrined in law in the form of the environment bill.
Over the last 30 years, the WINEP has succeeded in delivering significant benefits to water quality, water resources and biodiversity, including seeing the proportion of “excellent” bathing waters from less than a third to more than two-thirds.
However, in more recent years, the improvements being seen with regards to the overall quality of the water environment have plateaued, with progress being offset by the challenges of climate change and biodiversity, coupled with population growth and chemical contaminants.
The government has also just published its new draft Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat, which outlines the key priorities for the regulator to deliver on. This includes protecting rare habitats like chalk streams, working on the environmental performance of water companies and challenging them to tackle the long-term risks of flooding, drought and pollution.
Other priorities include driving down water leakage, improving water efficiency, treating all customers fairly, providing improved support for those who need additional help and considering the role markets have to play in driving innovation and efficiencies, as well as promoting longer term sustainable investment throughout the industry.
Rebecca Pow, environment minister, said: “Water companies have a holistic role in delivering improvements to our environment – through delivering greater flood resilience, protecting water resources and addressing water quality issues. We want to see them deliver on this in the round through work to tackle climate change.
“Our priorities for Ofwat build on the work I have already undertaken to reduce harm from storm overflows and set a clear expectation for water companies to significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows.”
The forthcoming environment bill recently reached the report stage and third reading in the House of Commons, making its way through Parliament.
It contains numerous amendments to help clean up the UK’s air, restore natural habitats and increase biodiversity, as well as outlining how the government plans to reduce waste, improve water management in the face of a changing climate and how we can make better use of the resources available to us.
If you and your business are keen to become more water efficient, get in touch with the team here at H2o Building Services to see how we can help reduce your water usage and consumption.