Southern Water last week published its new Water Resources Management Plan, which for the first time looked 50 years ahead (to 2070) rather than to 25 years as previous plans have.
The company is looking to cater for 3.5m people by 2070, and for business and industrial use to rise by 10%. It will require 595m litres of water each day, a rise from today of 11%. It said it will need to find 300m litres each day to leave more water in the environment to support wildlife, and faces an immediate challenge in Hampshire where less water will be taken from the iconic chalk Test and Itchen river systems, especially when flows drop in summer or following a dry autumn and winter.
Nicholas Price, water resource planning manager, said: “Environment Agency chief executive, Sir James Bevan, made a speech this spring where he spoke of the ‘jaws of death' for water –climate change and population growth. Our analysis shows this is no exaggeration – the jaws of death are closing and when the teeth meet, it is this part of the country that will feel the bite.”
Southern plans to invest £1.82bn across the 50 years to address the challenge, and its new plan includes 32 catchment schemes, two desalination plants and three water recycling projects, as well as cutting personal use to 100 litres per person per day by 2040, halving leakage by 2050 and a supply from the new Havant Thicket reservoir.