05.12.23

South West Water continue to fail rivers in the southwest of England

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South West Water's plan for managing water resources in the southwest of England is inadequate and confused.

South West Water is required to publish a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) every five years to provide its customers with details about how it plans to manage water resources in the southwest. South West Water’s revised draft WRMP is out for consultation until Wednesday 6 December. WildFish encourages all those who can to respond.

South West Water’s biggest challenge is its legal obligation to end over-abstraction on the River Avon SAC. The River Avon is a protected site, meaning that South West Water must provide solutions to end its harmful over-abstraction on the river as soon as practicable and as required under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

In their response, WildFish argues that South West Water’s plan fails to deliver a management strategy that will allow it to cease its over-abstraction as soon as practicable. An end date is not provided, but using the information available, WildFish estimates that it will take South West Water until 2050 to be in a position to cease its over-abstraction on the Avon. That said, South West Water’s revised draft WRMP is so opaque and confused that WildFish cannot be certain in this assessment.

WildFish recommendations

Following a review of the plan, WildFish believes that the revised draft is inadequate and has recommended that South West Water publish a new revision of its draft WRMP before the final plan is released.

A new revision needs to be clear and consistent and provide comprehensive detail for each supply solution as well as the associated environmental impacts of developing the solution versus not delivering it. Clear and ambitious tables need to be provided for each waterbody which require substantial abstraction reduction. These tables should specify the total reduction and the solutions (both supply and demand) required to offset it.

Proposals to apply for further abstraction licenses raise new concerns

WildFish is concerned by South West Water’s proposal to apply for more abstraction licences. With pressure growing on water companies to do more to protect our rivers from harm, it is worrying that South West Water is looking to take even more water out of natural supplies.

WildFish urges South West Water to start identifying and utilising modern technology to secure long-term water resources that are resilient to climate change.

WildFish urges interested parties to read their consultation response and make a submission to South West Water calling for a new revision to its draft WRMP – before the imminent deadline.

WildFish response to South West Water's draft plan
 
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