The Regulators Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) received submissions for four potential strategic regional water resource solutions on 28 September 2020.
With water shortages forecast to be most acute in the South and South East of England, the solutions put forward by Southern are intended to address its very urgent need to plug the gap between supply and demand, and to end the use of drought permits and orders to keep taps running in all but the most extreme drought events by the end of 2027.
The solutions received additional funding in Ofwat’s most recent price review (PR19), to help accelerate their development in response to the challenge of ensuring water resource supplies are resilient while protecting the environment and benefiting wider society. This funding is subject to a gated process to provide regular checks on progress in developing these solutions and to determine whether they should continue to receive additional support.
The draft decisions made by Ofwat are as follows:
Desalination (proposed by Southern Water) The desalination plant in Hampshire could provide up to 75 million litres of water per day and would be the largest seawater desalination system in the UK.
Water recycling (proposed by Southern Water) An alternative to Fawley desalination in Southern Water’s Water Resources Management Plan, and which could provide up to 61 million litres of water per day.
West Country North Sources (jointly proposed by Bristol Water, Wessex Water and Southern Water) This consists of a reservoir in Bristol Water’s area and transfer through Wessex Water’s area to Southern Water, and which has a transfer capacity of up to 40 million litres of water per day.
In addition, Southern Water submitted a new proposal for a raw water transfer from Portsmouth Water’s proposed Havant Thicket reservoir to its Otterbourne Water Treatment Works. This solution could provide up to 61 million litres per day of additional water.
This new proposal, was therefore will be subject to additional assessment to determine whether it should be added to the existing programme and receive additional funding.
RAPID conducted the assessment of all four submissions according to its published guidance and provided its recommendations to Ofwat.
Ofwat wrote to Southern Water, Wessex Water and Bristol Water to communicate its draft decisions:
Companies and other interested parties have until 31 December 2020 to make their representations following these draft decisions Ofwat’s final decision will follow at the end of January 2021.