Policy makers and regulators told water companies to step up cross-sector working to build water supply resilience in a joint letter published last week.
Co-signatories from DEFRA, Ofwat, the DWI and the EA highlighted the “opportunities for multiple benefits by working in a collaborative way across the water sector, between different water users and with those planning industrial growth”. They then said: “We currently only observe this happening in pockets and we want to see more. This is important because it unlocks a wider range of opportunities and a different menu of viable options.
This is particularly important as we face the possibility of another dry winter causing difficulties for agriculture and the environment next year. We want to see more examples of companies working with other sectors to find joint short and long-term solutions which also improve the environment.”
The regulators added they also expect to see “more delivery on the demand side – helping customers become water efficient through supporting initiatives like the ‘Love Water’ campaign, for example”.
Most of the letter was devoted to setting out what had happened since the first joint letter on this subject a year ago. It acknowledged increased ambition in PR19 business plans and progress on regional planning; recapped work underway to make greater use of markets in this area; and ran through policy-side developments including RAPID and PR19 funding, National Framework activities, DEFRA’s personal consumption consultation and National Policy Statement work.
There was news that the Environment Agency “will be working with government and regulators to produce a 'destination statement’ for resilient water resources. It will signal the further enhancements wanted for water users and the environment. It will build on the collaborative approach taken by the National Framework.”
The policymakers signed off: “Together we have achieved a step change in the last twelve months. There is more to do. We look forward to continuing, maintaining and extending this approach to deliver the secure, safe, environmentally beneficial and cost effective water resources that consumers expect.”