Water Resources Management Plan

This plan sets out how, over a minimum of 25 years, we will balance water supplies with water demands to ensure adequate supply for our customers, while also protecting the environment.

Why do we have a WRMP?

Water companies are required to prepare and maintain a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) on a five-yearly cycle.

The plan is produced following guidance provided by the Environment Agency, our environmental regulator, and in accordance with direction from Defra.

Our current WRMP was published in August 2019. 

Revised Draft WRMP24 Plan Public Consultation and Statement of Response

Following instruction from Defra we prepared a draft of our next plan – WRMP24.

The plan was published as a draft for consultation which ran until 20 February 2023

We prepared a Statement of Response to the consultation representations, which described how we accounted for each of those representations and how our revised draft plan will be updated based on the feedback. The revised draft main plan and supporting appendices can be viewed using the links at the bottom of this page. 

We submitted this Statement of Response to Defra in summer 2023. Defra then wrote to us in December 2023 asking us for further information in support of the response. This additional information can now be found in a revised Statement of Response. Defra will now review this additional information to determine whether we can publish our plan as a final plan.

For reasons of national security, information has been excluded from the published draft plan and the Statement of Response. The information excluded contains detailed information relating to our water sources and water supply system operation.

Information has also been excluded from the published plan for commercial reasons. Should you wish to see these documents, please email wrmpconsultation@wessexwater.co.uk with “draft WRMP24” in the email subject field.

Revised draft plan overview

We have developed an ambitious long-term plan for water resources that delivers great customer service and enhances the environment for nature and people.

This plan has been developed within the context of our recently revised strategic direction that sets safe and reliable water supplies, sustainable abstraction and affordable bills as three of our eight priority outcomes that are integral to the way we’ll continue to manage water resources. Read more about our outcomes and strategic direction.

This WRMP is a key component of our wider Business Plan 2025 - 2030.

Clatworthy Reservoir in Somerset

How we forecast supply and demand

We have undertaken a detailed technical programme to develop our supply-demand balance, which forecasts whether we would have enough water to meet demand in each year from 2025 to 2080.

New planning requirements mean we must understand whether we would have enough water if a very severe “1 in 500-year drought” were to happen in each year of the planning horizon. Our calculations of water availability also account for future abstraction licence changes that may be needed to help protect the environment, in particular in local chalk catchments, as well as accounting for the impact of climate change.

Our demand forecast accounts for peak demands that would occur in a dry and hot “1 in 500-year drought”, as well as future potential changes in household and non-household demand, as impacted by population and property growth, economic growth, and changes in customer water use behaviour.

Under our central planning scenario, with no interventions (investments), we forecast a small surplus in supplies over demands in the short term to 2035, declining into a deficit over the long term due to gradually increasing demand associated with population growth, a small reduction in available water due to climate change, but also because of step reductions in the amount of water we can abstract from the environment, primarily in 2035.

How we plan to meet this need

We have explored a long list of options to both increase available supplies and reduce demand, while also assessing these options against a range of criteria, including technical and environmental feasibility, cost and environmental performance (including biodiversity and natural capital). We have also assessed the options against government expectations for reducing per capita consumption to 110 litres per person per day, halving leakage by 2050, and reducing demand by 20% per person by 2038.

We have undertaken investment modelling to identify the right mix of these options - called our preferred plan - to solve the water supply shortfall between 2035 and 2080. Consistent with our outcomes-led approach to business planning, we have assessed our plan in terms of delivery in the key outcomes of drought resilience, cost, carbon emissions and environmental performance.

As the future is uncertain, our plan is also adaptive, where alongside making investments, we will also undertake investigation work to reduce planning uncertainties to make sure we can make the best decisions in future plans.

A key part of our plan is that we commit to protecting chalk streams, including the Hampshire Avon, by substantially reducing further our abstraction licences, resulting in a 80Ml/d loss in supply during drought conditions by 2035. To achieve this, our plan includes:

  • Roll out of smart meters to 95% of properties in our region by 2035, including household customers and businesses. This programme will initially target demand reductions in areas that reduce abstraction from the Hampshire Avon catchment, which will provide the greatest environmental benefits. Existing measured customers will have their basic meters upgraded; unmeasured customers will have a smart meter installed with engagement to encourage making a switch to metered bills. The data provided by smart meters will help us find leaks and reduce water consumption, so we can protect the environment and save customers money on their bills.
  • Enhance our household and business water efficiency programmes, underpinned by data and insight from the smart meter roll out, to engage with over 12,000 households from 2025-2030.
  • Continue to reduce leakage from 2025 to meet the regulatory target of 50% reduction by 2050. This will be achieved through utilising technology to find leaks faster by expanding our network of acoustic loggers and preventing leaks occurring through managing pressure in our network and replacing mains. Smart meters will also help us find leaks on customers supply pipes.
  • Develop in 2025 a stream support option for two upper stour headwater catchments.
  • By 2025, take forward several supply side schemes through design and development to be ready for potential delivery to meet licence reductions in 2035, depending on the outcome of future need and the needs of other users in the Hampshire Avon catchment.
  • Given the scale of deficit in the long term, continue to investigate new regional strategic resource options, such as effluent re-use and/or a new reservoir in the Mendips, with South West Water as our main partner on the West Country Resources Group.

In combination the options included in our preferred plan will ensure we meet statutory targets to reduce demand per person by 20% by 2038, and also the associated per person consumption, leakage and non-household demand reduction targets by 2050.

Further information

Alongside the final WRMP, we have also published our water resources market information, which is available for the dry year planning scenario and critical period scenario.

As part of our Business plan 2020 - 2025, we have developed a Bid Assessment Framework to support our water resources management plan. The framework supports our Market Place activities to drive innovation and bids from third parties in relation to:

  • water resources
  • leakage
  • water efficiency measures
  • metering.
Sutton Bingham Reservoir

Document download

For all other WRMP supporting documents, please visit our document library.