Briefing on Water Resources in the South East

The Group Water Resources in the South East organised a conference on Friday to give a briefing on their work towards water resource planning, which they have been carrying out over the last couple of years. My researcher Catharine attended the conference. The event which was held in the Church House Conference Centre, Deans Yard, London, was extremely well planned and provided a good overview of what this work has entailed. WRSE are a group of the six south-eastern water companies plus DEFRA, the Environment Agency and Ofwat, set up in 1996 which jointly look ways of planning for future water demands in the South East whilst ensuring that environmental and consumer concerns are properly taken into consideration too.

Many key stakeholders were represented at the event and the morning’s programme which was chaired by Howard Davidson, Regional Director of the Environment Agency included a detailed overview of the Regional Optimisation Modelling Process which the University College of London and Halcrow created in conjunction with WRSE to provide for contingencies in the event of the changing climate, water shortages and possible drought situations, in coordination with the Water Resource Management Plans which water companies in the UK are obliged to produce every five years and the Strategic Plans required to be produced every 25 years.

In the discussion which looked at the modelling process, a number of scenarios were factored into the process and a range of regional and strategic options arose which satisfy in part, these scenarios. Chiefly these factors included reducing demand, increasing supply of water by new transfers (between water companies) and increasing supply with the use of groundwater. It was emphasised that that this work not only meets the Government’s key policy priorities found in the Water Resources Planning Guidelines but it will also inform respective water company Water Resource Management Plans.

The morning also involved the Environment Agency and Affinity Water (as an individual water company) giving their perspectives on the modelling work carried out and there were opportunities for questions and answers to be put to respective members of the WRSE group so that stakeholders could gain answers to some of their more direct concerns. As many will know, I have long campaigned for the plight of our over abstracted rivers and streams in the constituency and I think that the work which WRSE carries out is invaluable in seeking to address this. The morning’s briefing was very informative and the Group’s full report on the Regional Optimisation Model has been published today on the WRSE website: http://wrse.org.uk/.

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