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  • Shape your water future.

    Draft water resources management plan 2019


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    We take water from rivers and under the ground, treat it and distribute it to homes and businesses across our supply area through a network of underground pipes. Every day we supply our customers with more than 2,600 million litres of water - enough to fill 1,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.


    Water is essential for everything we do - from having a drink, to washing our clothes, and flushing the loo. It’s also essential for a healthy environment and a prosperous economy. It’s our job to provide a reliable supply of safe drinking water to around 10 million household customers and 215,000 businesses in London and across the Thames Valley.

    Many people think there is plenty of water in the UK, but the South East of England is one of its driest regions and London gets less rain than Rome, Dallas and even Sydney. Our water supplies are being stretched further and further as the number of people living in our area increases. We have to plan ahead, because the choices we make today will shape the water supply we can provide in the future.

    This document is an overview of our draft Water Resources Management Plan 2019, referred to in this document as our ‘water plan’. It sets out how we plan to provide a secure and sustainable supply of water for our customers over the next 80 years from 2020

    to 2100. We have to comply with legal requirements and have followed the government’s guidelines in preparing our water plan.

    We want to hear what you think, and are running a public consultation on our water plan, starting in February 2018 and closing on 29 April 2018. Your feedback will help us decide how to meet our customers’ needs in the future.

    We’re also developing our draft Business Plan, which focuses on the first five years (2020 to 2025) of the period covered in our water plan, and sets out what we are going to do for both our water and wastewater services. We’re also seeking your views on this plan.

    Your current water supply

    This document is an overview of our water plan. This symbol signposts the relevant sections of the more detailed report if you want to read more. The report is available on our website

    3 Your current water supply A closer look at your current water supply area 4 Looking ahead The future challenges 8 What our customers want An overview of your priorities and preferences 10 Options available to help manage future water supply An outline of the options we have considered

    16 Deciding on our preferred programme A description of how we have made our decisions

    20 Our proposed plan Our proposals to provide a reliable water supply 23 Shape your water future Details of how to participate in the public consultation


    Throughout this document you will see this symbol, which highlights the questions we would like your response on as part of this consultation. You can find out more about the consultation on page 23.


    River Lee

    River Wey

    River Severn

    River Avon


    Guildford Hampshire





    Cotswolds Chiltern Hills


    Guildford Groundwater

    SE London Groundwater

    Beckton Desalination

    Lee Valley Reservoirs

    Lower Thames


    Farmoor Reservoir

    North London groundwater


    Ring Main

    we export to Anity Water

    we export to Essex & Suolk Water


    To boost water supplies, we built a desalination

    plant in 2010. This takes water from the Thames

    estuary, removes the salt, and treats the water. It is an important reserve

    but is a last resort as it is expensive and uses lots

    of energy.

    Section 1: Introduction and background Section 2: Water resources programme 2015-2020

    Water is stored in reservoirs to use when the flow in rivers is low, or of poor quality. Our

    reservoirs hold about 100 days supply of water.

    In London, about 80% of our water is taken

    from the River Thames and the River Lee.

    In the Thames Valley, around 70 % of our water is taken from

    underground sources in the Cotswolds and the

    Chiltern Hills.

    • Our area and the wider South East are classified by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed”.

    • The Thames river catchment is the most intensively used water resource system in England. Around 90 per cent of water that is abstracted is for public water supply. The remaining 10 per cent is for energy generation, agriculture and other uses. The Environment Agency regulates these abstractions.

    • About 38 per cent of our household customers have a water meter.

    • On average each of our customers uses 146 litres of water every day.

    • Around 25 per cent of the water we put into supply is lost through leaks from our water supply pipes and our customers’ pipes.

    Key facts

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    Our water supplies are already under pressure, and this will increase in the future. The number of people living in our area is growing rapidly and they will all need water.

    Population growth - London and the Thames Valley is already one of the most densely populated parts of the country, and the number of people living and working here is forecast to grow significantly. By 2045 we forecast that there will be around two million more people living in our area. That’s the equivalent of Birmingham and Glasgow moving in. And by 2100 we forecast that there could be more than 15 million people living in our area.

    Climate change - Our climate is changing. Hotter, drier summers in the future will mean that there will be less rain when we need it most, and extreme weather events are likely to be more common.

    Looking ahead

    This shortfall will start in the next five years and is forecast to grow to around 360 million litres of water per day by 2045. That’s equivalent to the amount needed by over two million people. The shortfall is forecast to increase to 864 million litres of water per day by 2100, the end of our planning period.

    The challenge is most severe in London, but we also forecast a significant shortfall in the Swindon and Oxfordshire region, and other parts of the Thames Valley.


    10.2m people

    Forecast population growth: Thames Water supply area


    12.0m people


    11.0m people


    15.3m people


    15.4m people

    We have used data from the Mayor of London and local authorities to develop our

    forecasts of population growth.

    Environment - Wildlife in wetlands and rivers relies on a healthy environment with plentiful water. We need to balance the water we take for our customers with what we leave in the environment. We will continue to reduce the amount of water we take from rivers in parts of our region where the environment is under pressure.

    litres per day



    without water for a day




    Supply demand shortfall: Thames Water supply area

    DEMAND = Amount of water we need

    By 2100 we forecast that there will be a shortfall of:

    SUPPLY = Amount of water available


    10.2m people


    12.0m people


    11.0m people


    15.3m people


    15.4m people

    Taking all these factors into account, we predict there will be a shortfall between the amount of water available and the amount we need – unless we take action.

    Section 3: Current and future demand for water

    Section 6: Baseline supply demand position

    One mega litre equals one million

    litres of water and is equivalent to the water used by about 7,000

    people each day.

    At the same time, the amount of water that we can take from rivers and underground sources is reducing, due to changes in the climate and the need to protect the environment.

    Section 4: Current and future water supply

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    There are also other factors which affect our water plan.

    A regional perspective - The pressures of population growth and climate change are affecting the whole of the South East of England – not just our area. In our water plan we have aimed to meet the growing water needs of the wider South East of England, taking into account opportunities to transfer water from across the region and beyond. By working together with other water companies across England and Wales we’re taking a coordinated approach to planning for the future and making sure all our plans offer customers the best possible value for money. Some of our neighbouring companies have asked us to provide water to them in the future, which their customers would pay for, and we have included their needs in our water plan.


    The UK is often thought of as rainy, but we do have dry spells and droughts when the amount of water in the ground and rivers is low. In severe droughts we might need to put in place water restrictions. This would mean that water for everyday activities would be rationed and your water might be turned off for periods during the day. These restrictions could last for several weeks. As well as disrupting our customers’ lives, restriction

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