Water Suppliers Urged To Improve Drought Resilience Plans
Just last week (June 22nd), the Met Office announced that there is indeed a heatwave on the way, with deputy chief meteorologist Jason Kelly confirming that high pressure is very much in charge so we can expect to see warm and dry conditions lasting until the end of the month, with similar conditions continuing into the beginning of July.
While this is certainly fantastic news for sun worshippers, it’s not quite such a boon for our water supplies, with droughts a very real possibility over the next few months. In fact, our reservoirs have already started drying up – so businesses and homeowners alike may want to start doing all they can to prioritise their water stewardship strategies so that the UK doesn’t run out of water.
Water companies are better placed to start making very real inroads in this regard, however, and industry regulator Ofwat has just called on the country’s suppliers to make improvements in how they plan for greater resilience against droughts. Better water management is even more important now in order to drive down the amount of water we take from the environment, with population growth and climate change having very real impacts on water availability.
It has been suggested that companies could take greater advantage of opportunities to reduce water consumption, trade water and drive down leakage over the long term. Some suppliers also need to be more proactive in involving customers and third parties in the planning stages, with the quality of some draft plans and evidence falling short of the mark.
Senior director of Water 2020 David Black commented, saying: “We are disappointed that water companies’ draft water resources plans fell short of our expectations given the challenge to the sector for ambitious action to improve resilience. There are examples of good practice in a number of plans, but more can be done to deliver a robust twin track approach and look harder across company boundaries to develop regional solutions and outcomes.”
Water 2020 is an offshoot of Ofwat, a dedicated group prioritising meeting the challenges for water and wastewater services throughout England. The vision for the water sector is one where customers and wider society have confidence and trust in water, which means that everyone in the industry will have to work together, tackle long-term challenges head on and actually listen to their customers.
The focus thus far has been on customer service to drive improvements for the wider population; resilience, covering supply, resilient systems that can recover from bursts and floods, sound governance and resilience for the environment; affordable bills that offer value for money; and more innovation, with companies not doing enough so far to test themselves to both improve and innovate.
Making regulatory changes will deliver greater benefits for customers, investors and the environment. Once services are more resilient and efficient, customers will certainly start to reap the benefits, while companies will be better able to focus on what they do best and where they can add value.