Water resources management plan

Every five years we develop our Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) which sets out how we will manage the water supplies in our region to meet current and future needs over a minimum of 25 years. Our current Plan, published in 2019, covers the period from 2020-2045.  We are now developing our next Plan (WRMP24) for the period 2025 – 2050.

What are Water Resource Management Plans?

Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) are statutory documents that all water companies must produce at least every five years.  They set out how the water company intends to achieve a secure supply of water for their customers while protecting and enhancing the environment.


The plan must forecast the expected water supply and demand (for public water supply) over, at least, 25 years and determine a preferred programme to meet the water resource deficit by identifying and appraising a range of options. 


Our current Water Resource Management Plan, published in 2019 is addressing our supply demand balance, which, if we took no action, would see our region experienced significant water shortages within the next five years.


We are taking steps to manage demand by driving water efficiency through reducing leakage, behavioural change programmes, and installing smart meters , while on the supply side we are investing in a network of strategic pipelines to better join up our network and move water from areas of relative abundance to areas of deficit.

Why are they important?

Water resources are already scare, and climate change will reduce them further.  It is therefore paramount that we plan for the long term.  We are guided by our 25-year Strategic Direction Statement to meet developing priorities and identify the investment needed for a sustainable future.


Water Resource Management Plans play a crucial role in securing the public water supply for the region.  The plan identifies the investment required to secure public water supply for the region whilst protecting and enhancing the environment.  This is then projected into water company business plans. 


What are the key challenges?

We face a number of key challenges in the region:


  • Climate Change – we operate in the driest region in the UK, and are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.  We must deliver a plan that provides resilience to a 1 in 500-year drought event.  This is a significant step change from previous plans, where we planned to 1 in 200-year drought events.
  • Environmental Protection – we are committed to reducing the amount of water we abstract in order to protect and enhance the environment.  These sustainability reductions are made by the Environment Agency to our abstraction licences.
  • Population and economic growth – our region is one of the fastest growing in the country.  Growth projections exceed 175,000 new homes over the next five years – without factoring in the proposed OxCam Arc.  By 2050 the region’s population may grow by a further million people.  This coupled with the effect of Covid-19 will continue to change the demand for water.


How are they produced?

When developing our water resource management plan we will:


  • comply with the relevant legislation
  • consider what has changed since the development of the previous water resource management plan
  • forecast how much water on a sustainable basis we have available
  • forecast how much demand there will be for water each year for a minimum of 25 years
  •  allow for uncertainty in calculations and forecasts
  • identify options to reduce demand and/or increase supply to achieve an environmentally sustainable secure supply of water
  • outline the risks uncertainties of the future planning.
  • produce a best value plan
  • explain how the regional plan has informed each stage of our water resource management plan as we develop these plans in parallel. 


Water Resource Management Plan 2024 (WRMP24)

We are working with our stakeholders to develop our next plan, WRMP24 with a draft submitted to Defra in October 2022. 


In line with statutory requirements we will be holding a public consultation on this draft WRMP in November 2022. 


Our statement of response on how we’ve addressed the feedback we’ve received will be published in May 2023.  The final plan will be published in August 2023.


Water Resource Management Plan 2019

Our Preferred Plan adopts a twin-track approach. We will focus on the demand side first and reduce the amount of water used by installing smart meters, reducing leakage and investing in water efficiency.


But we will also invest in the supply-side to increase the amount of water available. This includes investing in a series of interconnecting pipes to better join up our network and ensure we make best use of available resources before developing new ones. In the medium- to long-term, we are likely to need additional resources. This could include winter storage, recirculation of recycled water, or desalination. We will be working with regional stakeholders and neighbouring water companies over the next two to three years to identify the best options to take forward to WRMP 2024.


Our plan is built upon our longstanding guiding principles to develop a system of water supply that is reliable, sustainable and affordable.


We have checked to ensure that our plan does not include any information that would be contrary to the interests of national security or is commercially confidential.



Water Resources Management Plan 2019

To ensure any future investment to create new resources or transfer water doesn’t harm the environment, we have undertaken a series of environmental assessments. 


The Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Report and the Habitats Regulation Assessment reports can be viewed below. Appendices are available upon request.