Ofwat has today recommended that ring-fenced funding continues to be used for further investigations into four strategic regional water resource solutions in England – with two of the solutions helping to reduce abstraction from some of the most iconic chalk rivers in England and another finding a new use for a disused quarry mine.
The chalk rivers in Hampshire support a rich and diverse wildlife and provide clean water for households and businesses – they are also at risk from over abstraction during times of drought. To protect the ecosystem and to plug the gap between supply and demand – a reduction in the abstraction of water is needed and a range of options in the form of new solutions are required.
Both the water recycling and Havant Thicket raw water transfer solutions could help to create more resilient water supplies in Hampshire and have been recommended by the Regulators Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) to pass the second checkpoint of the programme called gate two. However, a third proposal in Hampshire for a desalination plant in Fawley, which had been considered at gate one – the first checkpoint, will no longer progress its exploration.
Two new proposed solutions were also given the green light to progress through gate one to gate two:
- Upper Derwent Valley reservoir expansion would see the existing reservoir complex expanded by either raising an existing dam, constructing a new dam, or developing a fourth reservoir. All these options will be fully explored.
- The Mendips Quarries solution proposes to repurpose a quarry to a reservoir once quarry operations cease in 2040, supplying water to the West Country and/or South East England.
The recommendations follow a comprehensive assessment by RAPID and agreement across all three regulators that make up the alliance.
Paul Hickey, Managing Director of RAPID said:
“It is vital that we find the right solutions to deliver resilient water supplies across England, but we must also ensure that the environment is not only protected but also enhanced by these solutions.
“The two solutions in Hampshire – water recycling and Havant Thicket raw water transfer – could help to create that resilient supply, reducing the need for abstraction from the historic chalk streams.
“It’s also great to see that collaboration is continuing to happen across the sector with new proposed solutions still being received by RAPID. The Upper Derwent Valley reservoir expansion makes full use of existing infrastructure and Mendips Quarries solution makes use of a man-made quarry pit.
“All these solutions could help us achieve better water resource resilience while offering wider public value.”
Notes to editors
- Ofwat’s draft decisions and letters to solution owners, on accelerated gate two solutions and the new gate one solutions.
- Companies and other interested parties have until 5pm 12 April 2022 to make their representations following these draft decisions.
- Ofwat will publish its final decisions on 17 May 2022.
- Infographic explaining all four solutions.
- The Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) was set up in 2019. It is a partnership made up of the water regulators – Ofwat, the Environment Agency (EA), the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI).
- RAPID was formed to help facilitate the development and funding of these new large scale strategic water supply solutions. Each of the strategic solutions will pass through a gated process where decisions are made on delivery penalties and solution progression.