The Environment Agency are consulting on their Drought Planning Guideline for Water Companies – open until 18th October 2019 - and we urge you to respond.
Rivers across the Lea Catchment and others within the Thames River Basin District are experiencing major water shortages resulting in exceptionally low / no flow along a high proportion of their lengths. Further information and current data can be found in the most recent Environment Agency Water Situation Report (August 2019)
We recognise it is essential to safeguard the public water supply, but consider that the environment too needs to be treated as a customer for whom enough supply must be sustained. There is enough water in the UK for communities, business and the environment, but a lack of investment in strategic infrastructure and an historic disregard for the environment, has brought us dangerously close to a "new norm". This must not be allowed to continue and new Water Company Drought Planning Guidance must be robust and unambiguous.
The consultation can be found here and we would like to encourage as many peopel as possible to repsond.
The guideline sets out what water companies "must and should" include in their statutory drought management plans. These plans focus on the actions companies plan to take to maintain water supply and protect the environment from their operations during a drought. The plans are reviewed every 5 years; the next submission date for all draft plans will be January 2021, with final drought plans to be published by April 2022. This latest Drought Planning Guideline aims to take into account the latest research, practice and experience of dry weather to inform future plans produced by water companies.
The Hosts of the Lea Catchment Partnership's will be making a response. The points of concern to us and that we will be commenting on, which you might also wish to consider when making your responses are:
- That the Guideline must give similar and appropriate weighting to protecting the environment, as it does to maintaining public water supply, and in particular when drought occurs.
- That the Guideline must set out robust mechanisms to support and increase environmental resilience - before, during and after a drought.
- That the Guideline must set out specific measures to ensure environmental damage is limited and its recovery is facilitated - before, during and after a drought.
- That all measures set out in the Guideline must be definitive, i.e. termed "will and must" not "should", so that environmental protection can be enforced.
- Suggestion to include an Environmental Drought Resilience and Recovery precept or levy from water company profits.
Photo: Credit Peter White - River Mimram, Fulling Mill Lane, Sept 2019.