Drought plan

Drought plan - update 2021

Our drought plan sets out how we intend to manage water resources during extended periods of dry weather.

Water companies are required to prepare and maintain a drought plan on a five-yearly cycle. The plan identifies actions we will take before, during, and after a drought to maintain a secure supply of water, and outlines how we will assess and mitigate against the environmental impacts of our actions.

Our current drought plan was last updated in 2018

Draft Drought Plan 2021

Following instruction from Defra, we have now developed a new draft drought plan. The plan has been developed following Defra and the Environment Agency’s current drought plan guidance and Defra’s drought plan direction.

We published the plan for public consultation in the Spring and Summer of 2021, and have now prepared a Statement of Response to the representations received, which can be downloaded here.

We have sent our Statement of Response to Defra who will review our response and decide whether the plan can be published as a final plan.

The Draft Drought Plan 2021 sets out our proposed tactical and operational response to extended periods of dry weather. Our supply system requires careful management to balance water use across the supply system throughout the year.

We propose to manage our supply system on the basis of 5 drought management levels. The water resource position, as monitored through reservoir storage, groundwater levels and available abstraction licence, is used to identify which Drought Management Level we are in and therefore guide what demand and supply actions we could take to strengthen our resource position.

Actions to reduce demand include:

  • running water efficiency campaigns for our customers
  • enhancing our leakage reduction programme
  • imposing temporary restrictions on water use, such as hosepipe bans

Actions to increase available supplies of water include:

  • topping-up storage in our reservoirs by pumping in water from nearby rivers
  • bringing standby sources into service
  • applying for drought permits to temporarily vary abstraction licence conditions

The actions we propose to take during a drought have been ordered to minimise the impact on customers and the environment through optimisation of our existing system in the first instance, followed by actions to reduce demand, and then implementation of the least environmentally impacting drought actions first.

For this draft plan we have increased the number of drought permit options available to increase the range of options to help maintain supply security in the event of drought. We have also included potential options that could be implemented to help maintain supplies in the event of extreme drought.

The plan also outlines the environmental assessment of the possible impacts of our proposed drought permit options and our communication strategy to ensure our customers, regulators, external organisations and staff are kept well informed of the drought situation and how we are managing it.

For reasons of national security, information has been excluded from the published draft plan.  The information excluded concerns detailed information relating to our water sources and water supply system in relation to drought and drought permit operation.