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  • by Karma Loveday

Strategy group calls for post-election Cabinet Office water review

A pan sector strategy group has demanded that the Cabinet Office should, immediately after this year’s General Election, commission an independently chaired review of how water is managed and regulated. The group, insited that the review reports inside the first 12 months of the next government’s term, and the recommendations need to be implemented across the remainder of the term.


The call came from A Fresh Water Future, which was launched in Parliament last week. The project was a multi-stakeholder venture led by CIWEM, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and overseen by a diverse project steering group chaired by WICS’ Michelle Ashford. The team conducted an independent review of water sector performance and governance, and paired that with a co-created expert, stakeholder and public vision for future water management in the UK, based on extensive engagement.


Ashford said A Fresh Water Future was “a call to action” and “grounded in broad consensus”.

There were ten recommendations in all:

  • commission a comprehensive, independent review of water management, to report within its first twelve months;

  • review, and if necessary reform, regulators so that they can discharge their responsibilities effectively;

  • reform governance and regulation of water companies to create purpose-led organisations, transparent and compliant with the law;

  • increase the level of monitoring through a National Environmental Monitoring Strategy and Programme;

  • introduce ambitious catchment system management;

  • improve advice and support for nature- and water-friendly farming, mirrored by increased enforcement against poor practice to unlock a fair balance between enforcement and support;

  • deliver a statutory nutrient management programme;

  • invest in maintaining water systems so infrastructure upgrades endure;

  • adopt a "sponge cities" approach to our villages, towns and cities to unlock regeneration, resilience, prosperity and a fresh water future; and

  • nurture society’s value of water through greater awareness of usage.

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