Ofwat has today confirmed its backing for nine water companies to progress with the investigation of innovative ideas and partnerships to help bring water to the drier parts of the country as part of a £500m programme.
With water resources coming under increasing pressure from population growth, economic development and climate change, there is a real need for a step change in water supply infrastructure to meet future needs. The Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) was formed to help facilitate the development and funding of new large scale strategic water supply solutions to help prevent predicted water shortages, protect the environment and meet wider societal needs.
Nine water companies have collaborated on investigating and developing solutions which will now receive ring-fenced funding for the next stage of their development.
The wide-ranging solutions include ideas such as capturing, recycling, and reusing water, using canals and rivers as nature’s conveyor belt to move water around the country, and building new reservoirs. Other projects include investigating sharing water with farmers or industry, or providing other benefits like reducing flood risk or making space for nature.
Following feedback from stakeholders, RAPID has offered its backing to further explore these solutions but is calling on companies to do more to engage with stakeholders.
David Black, Interim Chief Executive at Ofwat said:
“The need for maintaining reliable water supplies has never been clearer, with the ongoing challenges of population growth and climate change. Meeting the challenge demands collaboration and fresh thinking, and it’s exciting to see some of the green shoots from that including plans to use canals and rivers as nature’s conveyor belt to move water to where it is needed most. “
Nicholas Adjei, Deputy Chief Inspector of Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) said:
“The DWI is pleased to have been part of the assessment process for the gate one submissions. We recognise the importance of a rigorous process to scrutinise the development of these strategically important water resources projects. The projects will deliver improved long-term security of water supplies in light of the challenges presented by climate change and our changing demands for water.”
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:
“Climate change and population growth mean that if we don’t take action now, water demand will exceed availability in many parts of the country by 2050. Turning this around will require a society-wide effort and water companies, government, regulators, farmers and individuals all have roles to play.
“We need water companies to deliver innovative ideas for resilient water supplies. By passing today’s important milestone, they can continue to develop the strategic solutions needed to ensure this vital resource is protected for future generations.”
RAPID have also today published a consultation asking for views on the regulatory and commercial issues affecting infrastructure development. RAPID recognises that changes are required to regulatory and commercial frameworks and the consultation covers this. Responses are invited from interested parties by 5pm Wednesday 26 January 2022.
Notes for editors
- Ofwat’s final decisions on the gate one solutions.
- Letters to companies – Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Cambridge Water (South Staffs Water), Severn Trent Water, Southern Water, South West Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Wessex Water.
- Infographics of the proposed 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.
- The final decisions on the South East Strategic Reservoir Option (SESRO) will be made on 5 January 2022.
- RAPID’s Autumn consultation is open until 5pm Wednesday 26 January 2022.