Environment secretary, Michael Gove, has formally charged water companies with a new target to halve leakage by 2050.
The direction came in a wide ranging speech on climate change projections given by the environment secretary last week.
Gove (pictured) said: “Climate change will manifest itself most acutely in our hydrologic system: the intense rainfall of the winter, the arid heat of the summer, and rising sea levels will be how we experience climate change most immediately in our everyday lives. Using the best scientific evidence from our projections, we are taking action to improve our resilience.”
The water industry has already committed to delivering this level of leakage reduction.
As well as the leakage target, Gove pointed to the government’s action to support reservoir and water transfer construction via the new draft National Policy Statement for water resources, which was also laid before Parliament last week (see The week in water). Gove noted: “In part because of company behaviour, in part because of regulatory barriers, we have not built any major new reservoirs in this country since the industry was privatised.”
Elsewhere in the speech, Gove said he was “pleased” to see water company PR19 business plans “indicate good progress, with proposals for more than £50 billion of investment between 2020 and 2025”. Among the other measures he listed DEFRA as taking to cope with climate change included on flood defence and the new environmental land management measures in the Agriculture Bill.
The National Infrastructure Commission, which recommended a 50% leakage reduction by 2050 as well as supply side water resource actions in its Spring report, said: “With climate change increasing drought risk, England can't afford to lose three billion litres of water every day, so we're pleased to see Michael Gove endorsing our recommendations to halve leakages by 2050.
“We're also pleased the National Policy Statement will make it easier to deliver new reservoirs and water transfers to increase the capacity of the system and support areas in greatest need. These measures are an important step towards a more resilient water supply.”