Revised Draft Water Resources Management Plan 2024
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water provides an essential public service to over three million people across most of Wales, and adjoining parts of England. We are the sixth largest of the ten regulated water and sewerage companies in England and Wales and are unique in that we are a not-for-profit business with no shareholders. This means we are guided solely by what is in the best long-term interests of our customers and the environment.
We know that customers rely on us to deliver high-quality, safe and reliable services every day, no matter what is thrown at us by the weather or other operational challenges. They also need to be able to trust us to be planning well ahead, to ensure those services are sustainable and resilient over many decades to come.
We are the sixth largest water company in England and Wales, supplying water and wastewater services to just over three million people (Figure 1). We operate a variety of water sources to supply our customers. Most of our water is supplied from our impounding reservoirs although we abstract significant volumes from lowland river sources such as the River Wye in southeast Wales and the River Dee in north Wales. Groundwater accounts for less than five percent of our supplies at a Company level but at a local level, may be the whole supply.
What is a Water Resource Management Plan?
WRMPs are statutory documents that all water companies must produce at least once every five years, and which play a crucial role in securing the public water supply for the region. Water resources planning is about trying to ensure there is enough water supplied to homes and businesses while protecting the natural environment. At the heart of this is our understanding of how much water we are able to take from rivers, reservoirs and boreholes and supply to customers, not only in ‘normal years’ when we expect good supplies of rainfall across our supply area but also in periods of drought. Our forecast of water resource availability takes account of environmental factors and climate change that reduce the amount of water that can be sustainably taken from our water sources.
We need to balance how much we are able to supply against the current and future demand for water using the best data available to us. Where the supply demand balance flags a potential shortfall, to resolve it we identify options that either reduce demand or increase supplies. However, the decision on which solution is best should look at wider objectives such as maintaining good drinking water quality, meeting Government policy direction or customer’s wider preferences such as environmental impact. The investment required is then fed through into our company business plan to seek the necessary funding.
Our 2024 Water Resources Management Plan
The approaches we see as being key to the successful delivery of this Plan are:
- To comply with relevant legislation, notably the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and align with Welsh Government’s "Water Strategy for Wales 2015".
- To deliver a Best Value Plan that doesn’t just consider least cost solutions, but which looks to provide wider benefit to customers, society and the environment.
- To embed the principles of Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) within our Plan.
- To ensure that the views of our customers and stakeholders are properly considered, particularly on service levels and the cost of the Plan.
- To ensure our decision making considers all available options to reduce demand and/or increase supply to achieve an environmentally sustainable and secure supply of water.
- To prioritise demand management over supply side options where the wider benefits of doing so provide a Best Value solution. As part of this, we are proposing a further 10% reduction in leakage rates during the 2025-2030 period.
- To improve the resilience of our supply systems to pressures such as drought and climate change. We must deliver a plan that provides resilience to a 1 in 200-year drought event and will set out our plans for improving our resilience to a 1 in 500-year drought event.
- To ensure that the Plan is compliant with all statutory requirements and to carry the required environmental assessments of the Plan.
- To ensure there is alignment between the Water Resource West Regional Plan and our company water resource management plan as we develop these plans in parallel.
- To investigate the opportunities for trading water resources with 3rd parties where this is to the benefit of our customers and not to the detriment of the environment.
Objectives for the plan
The objective of our draft Water Resource Management Plan 2024 (dWRMP24) is to ensure that we will always be able to provide sufficient water supply to meet our customers’ demand for water over the next 25 years by making our water supply systems resilient to drought, particularly in light of a changing climate. The Plan uses best available evidence to formulate a set of actions through analysing future risks and identifying how we might need to adapt to different future circumstances. The basis for our planning is laid out in specific Welsh Government Guiding Principles and joint regulatory guidance. These documents are built upon and are directly linked to Government and regulatory authority legislation and policy.
We ran a full public consultation on our draft Plan for 14 weeks from the 16th November 2022 through to the 22nd February 2023, receiving 14 responses in total. The main report, together with the planning tables, SEA/HRA reports, and a bilingual non-technical summary were published on our website. During the consultation process we:
- Contacted over 300 organisations
- Contacted all relevant Members of the Senedd and UK Parliament
- Publicised the Plan via our Welsh Water social media
- Presented the Plan to Welsh Water’s Independent Environment Advisory Panel (IEAP)
- Ran a dedicated stakeholder engagement event (online) on the 24th January 2023.
Twenty organisations were represented at the event which provided them with an opportunity to discuss in more detail our draft WRMP24 ahead of providing any formal consultation feedback. The consultation fostered meaningful stakeholder engagement, with parties including regulators, environmental organizations, local and national authorities and other groups. By involving these stakeholders, we were able to gain critical feedback and alternative perspectives that make our investment decisions more robust, better informed, and ultimately more effective in addressing complex water resources challenges.
Following closure of the consultation, we submitted our revised draft Water Resource Management Plan 2024 to Welsh Government on the 23rd June 2023. This report and supporting documentation can be downloaded below.