Author: Jonathan Dennis, Principal, Water Resources Policy
‘Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World’ is this year’s World Water Week theme. It’s exploring how governments, businesses and society manage water as a critical resource as we face huge challenges, including climate change and population growth.
Last summer saw several UK areas declare drought after record-breaking hot temperatures. This year, we’ve experienced the hottest June since records began in 1884 and an extreme heatwave across southern Europe. We need to be prepared for a more unpredictable world around us.
Water supplies fit for the future
Securing robust water supplies for the future is vital and we don’t underestimate the challenge ahead. This means taking a dual approach of creating new water resources and managing demand for water with equal ambition.
At Ofwat, we’re using our regulatory powers to push water companies across England and Wales to meet key challenges and ensure we have enough water for people and the environment. This includes halving leakage by 2050 and developing £18bn of water supply infrastructure projects that are currently in progress.
Alongside this, we’re developing a new £100 million Water Efficiency Fund to encourage a transformative, sustained and measurable reduction in water demand nationally.
We have now published our early thinking, Scoping the Water Efficiency Fund: High level consultation, on water companies’ role in helping both residential and business customers to conserve water.
We’re looking for input on key areas of the fund, in particular:
What should the fund focus on?
This includes whether funding proposals should be collaborative, alongside the types of initiatives that should fall within scope, such as water efficiency behavioural change, or reducing wastage.
How do we bring in fresh perspectives?
How can we make the most of established expertise and best practice within the water sector already? How do we bring together cross-sector partnerships and beyond this, encourage ideas from outside the water sector to really drive innovation above and beyond?
How should we run the fund in practice?
We’re still developing our thinking here and exploring what types of governance would enable the fund to work well, whilst protecting customer interests.
Tell us what you think
We’re seeking a wide range of ideas and feedback from individuals and organisations on how we should shape this fund to benefit customers, communities and the environment for generations to come. Views from those outside of the water industry are particularly welcome. The closing date for submitting views on this consultation is 22 September 2023.
You can read the consultation in full, including details on how to submit your views – Scoping the Water Efficiency Fund: High level consultation
We’re holding a series of webinars, where you can ask us questions and find out more about the fund. The next webinar will be on Thursday 14 September, 1-2pm. Sign up using our online form.
This is the first of two consultations we have planned. In early 2024, we will use the feedback we receive on this consultation to set out a more detailed approach and invite further input. The final approach will be presented in Summer 2024, with an aim for the fund to be operational by April 2025.