Ofwat delivers draft decisions on strategic regional water resource options
Ofwat has today recommended that four strategic regional water resource solutions pass through accelerated gate one - its first checkpoint.
This follows a comprehensive assessment by the Regulators Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) and agreement to the recommendations across all three regulators that make up the alliance.
Hampshire is the home of some of the most iconic chalk rivers in England. While these rivers 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.
The proposed solutions are as follows:
- Desalination (proposed by Southern): 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): An alternative to desalination that could also provide up to 75 million litres of water per day.
- West Country North Sources (jointly proposed by Bristol Water, Wessex Water and Southern Water): A reservoir in Bristol Water’s area and transfer through Wessex Water’s area to Southern Water.
- Raw water transfer from Portsmouth Water’s proposed Havant Thicket reservoir to Southern’s Otterbourne Water Treatment Works (proposed by Southern Water): This new proposal includes abstraction from the proposed reservoir, a new high-lift pumping station and around a 40km pipeline to Otterbourne Water Treatment Works.
All four solutions have passed the first checkpoint but, in its assessment, RAPID raised concerns regarding the progress on key activities expected at this stage. For desalination and water recycling, it found that some elements of the expenditure had not been efficient, and not all of it should be allowed.
Shortcomings in the completeness and quality of these two submissions also mean that it proposes to implement a delivery incentive penalty of 10% unless a number of remedial actions are completed as a priority.
Southern has also indicated that completion of its three proposed solutions is currently not expected until 2028 or later. Without action to get the programme back on track, the end of 2027 timescale for delivery of alternative water resource (referred to in a Section 20 Agreement with the Environment Agency) will be missed - causing longer term environmental risk due to extended reliance on drought orders and permits as a means of topping up customers supplies.
Paul Hickey, managing director of RAPID said: “Today marks a significant milestone supporting the collaboration which is happening across the sector to achieve both water resource resilience and wider public value. The innovative nature of RAPID has allowed three regulators to come together and agree these draft decisions.
“We were pleased to see that all the submissions were on time and that the RAPID regulators, together with Natural England, were able to conduct such a thorough and co-ordinated assessment. The draft decisions represent the first indication of whether the companies are on track in progressing work on the strategic resource options in a way that offers value to customers.
“While we have seen some encouraging signs of collaboration, companies need to continue to demonstrate that they can secure resilient water supplies and deliver benefits to customers, the environment and society as a whole.
“We’ll continue to work with water companies to understand challenges and manage risks, and ultimately to drive forward solutions that promote the interests of customers and the environment both now and in the future.”
- Northumbrian Water completes investment in waterworks Northumbrian Water has completed the refurbishment of one of its groundwater stations as part of a £10.6m project aimed at... Read More >
- Simon Cocks steps down as WRSE chair Simon Cocks is to step down as independent Chair of Water Resources South East (WRSE) before the end of the financial... Read More >
- Water innovation accelerator programme open for expressions of interest AquaLAB, GHD Digital's global innovation and knowledge hub, is calling for expressions of interest for a collaborative... Read More >
- Chemical dosing systems: replace, repair or reconsider? If your chemical dosing system breaks down, should you repair it or replace it? According to Jamie Cole, operations... Read More >
- How Thames Water is managing demand for water during the QEII Reservoir outage Thames Water project manager, Rachel Whiteman, explains how the company is keeping London's taps flowing while one of its... Read More >
- Strong supplier partnership brings leak detection advancement With leak reduction and innovation prominent in the UK water sector's net zero carbon vision, strong partnerships between... Read More >
- Meet the judges of the Water Industry Awards 2021 WWT chats to some of the judges of the 2021 WIAs, to find out what they are most excited about for this year's awards. Read More >
- Adopting circular practices in the water industry key to mitigating impact of climate change The transition to a circular economy is not only better for the environment. It allows water companies to more effectively... Read More >