The adoption of the framework represents a significant step change in the way in which we plan water supplies. It will enable us to assess the shift in resilience delivered as a result of the regional plan being in place. It also means that for the first time, we will plan for events beyond just drought, assessing how different options perform from a resilience perspective. Furthermore, the framework will allow us to demonstrate how the regional plan will change the resilience of the water supplies of other sectors – such as agriculture, energy generation and industry, which do not rely on the public water supply system. This is a critical part of how we develop a truly multi-sector plan and take a more systems-based approach to resource planning.
Of course, all our supplies are reliant on a healthy and resilient environment and the framework will enable us to gauge how the regional plan contributes to enhancing this, supporting the delivery of the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.
Gathering views on the framework is an important first step in developing the plan, something we very much want to be a collaborative process. We received feedback from a range of organisations including Blueprint for Water, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), the Cotswold Canal Trust, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD), Kent County Council, Medway Internal Drainage Board (IDB), Natural England, Ofwat, South East Rivers Trust and Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Overall, the draft resilience framework was positively received, with people welcoming the inclusion of the environment as one of the key systems for delivering improvements. There were also helpful comments about taking a more ‘joined up’ approach between the water supply and wastewater treatment strands of the water cycle and adopting an approach that takes full account of potential environmental and social benefits that could be delivered by different actions.
Trevor Bishop, Organisational Director at WRSE, said: “We’re really grateful for all the views we received during the consultation.We’re now analysing people’s feedback and will use it to further develop the framework. Of course, we’ll update everyone on how we’ve taken account of what we’ve heard. Trevor added: “By assessing reliability and ability to adapt and evolve, we can clearly show that the solutions proposed in our regional plan, and the ‘local’ Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) this will inform, will be good for water company customers, other sectors that are major users of water and the environment, in terms of the resilience benefits provided. Of course, this detail will be vital in our ongoing discussions with stakeholders and customers, helping to ultimately provide clear evidence to support a strong case for funding at the next Price Review to deliver improved resilience.”
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This winter, we will use the resilience framework to produce a ‘baseline’ resilience assessment of the South East, looking at the situation as it stands currently. We will keep you updated on our progress.