The company forecasts that it will need an additional billion litres of water every day, enough to fill approximately 400 Olympic sized swimming pools, for its customers by 2075 to accommodate climate change, growing population and to reduce the amount of water taken from rivers and chalk streams to protect the environment.
The water company has published its Statement of Response to the public consulation on its draft Water Resources Management Plan.
The revised draft plan includes completion of the South East Strategic Reservoir Option (SESRO) by 2040.
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The size of the reservoir between East Hanney and Drayton has increased from 100 Mm3 to 150 Mm3 “to ensure the company can provide a resilient and sustainable water supply for future generations”, said Thames Water.
The reservoir would be developed with Affinity Water and Southern Water, to provide water across the South East.
In March Vale of White Horse District Council said Thames Water should drop the plans and focus on fixing leaks and efficiency.
Oxfordshire County Council criticised the plans in January, calling them “destructive”, “baffling”, and with the potential to cause “very significant civil unrest”.
Also in the revised plan is a commitment to more than halve leakage from both Thames Water’s own pipes and customers’ pipes by 2050.
And the most significant change to its plan is the government’s demand reduction requirements.
The company has committed to reduce daily water use to 110 litres per person by 2050, but with current water use in its region at around 140 litres per person it said this will be “challenging”.
Another strategic schemes that will provide water to Oxfordshire and the south east is a new river abstraction and water recycling scheme on the River Thames close to Teddington Weir which would be used in response to drought.
Thames Water said there will be ongoing work to ensure the scheme, which has a completion date of 2033, “will not cause any environmental deterioration, to progress its design and to continue to engage with the local community”.
The company has been working with Water Resources South East (WRSE) and neighbouring water companies to co-ordinate a regional response to safeguarding supply.
Nevil Muncaster, Thames Water strategic resources director, said: “The scale of the water resource challenge means we must make bold decisions and act now to ensure we have the water we need for generations to come.
“Given this, we must find ways to adapt to our changing climate, supply water to more people as our population grows, and reduce the amount of water we take from our rivers and chalk streams to protect the environment.
“Investing in and building new infrastructure is integral to the plan and we’re calling on the government to support ambitious projects, including a new reservoir in Oxfordshire and a river abstraction and water recycling scheme in West London.”
Thames Water carried out extensive public consultation between December 2022 and March 2023 with customers, local communities, and stakeholder groups.
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The revised plan also reflects revisions to the forecasts for population growth, using up-to-date information from local authorities and the Office for National Statistics.
Lee Dance, organisational director at Water Resources South East, said: “Our revised regional plan has been shaped by feedback from the public and sets out the investment needed to meet the predicted water shortfall across the South East.
“Delivery of the plan is essential to address the impact of climate change and population growth while making water supplies more resilient to drought and enabling more water to be left in the region’s rivers and streams.”
To find out more about the revised draft Water Resources Management Plan or read the Statement of Response, visit Thames Water’s dedicated web page.
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