Water resources management planning

Guidance and policies for water resources planning

The Natural Resources Wales, Environment Agency and Ofwat, have jointly consulted on and published the water resources planning guidelines for the next Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) for England and Wales. These guidelines are supported by the Welsh Government and Defra. There is additional technical supplementary guidance covering the following topics:

  • Stochastics
  • 1:500 planning (for all England and in Wales only where companies are planning to this resilience)
  • Climate change
  • Adaptive planning
  • Leakage
  • Outage
  • Resource zone integrity
  • Environment and society in decision-making (separate notes for Wales and England)
  • Best value planning
  • New Appointments and Variations (NAVs)

These supplementary guidance notes, in addition to the water resources planning tables / instructions, annual review submissions and the water company checklist are available on request from:

E-mail: WREPP@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

For water companies wholly or mainly in Wales, the Welsh Government also publish the Water Resources Management Plan (Wales) Directions and the Guiding Principles for developing water resources management plans.

UKWIR also produce research and guidance to support companies in the production of their plans in addition to supporting the wider water industry (visit the UKWIR website).

Send your annual review and outturn data

Water companies are required to produce an annual review and to send a statement of its conclusions to the Welsh Ministers if wholly or mainly in Wales (reviews should be sent to both the Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State if they supply areas in both England and Wales). This has to be done before the anniversary date of the publication of their final plan. Natural Resources Wales provides advice on the annual reviews to the Welsh Government.

The annual review is required to report on progress made by the water company according to their plan's stated objective. The annual review must also report on changes made to the plan, provide an overall summary of supply/demand and progress on the actions required by Natural Resources Wales or the Welsh Government. If there are any material changes required to your plan these should be discussed with Natural Resources Wales (and the Environment Agency for areas in England).

Water companies in Wales need to submit their annual outturn data to Natural Resources Wales and other regulators by 30th June each year. This data must demonstrate progress made in relation to the water companies’ water resources management plans, which enables Natural Resources Wales to monitor the plans and discuss any issues arising.

Welsh Government and Defra contact details

Water Policy Branch
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Email: water@gov.wales

Water Supply and Regulation Division
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 3D
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

Email: water.resources@defra.gov.uk

Public water supply in Wales

Water companies have a duty to prepare and produce Water Resources Management Plans (WRMP) every five years. These plans show how the supply of and demand for water may change (such as through climate change, land use change, population growthand our changing habits) and can be managed such as through water efficiency measures (visit the waterwise website for more information) over a twenty-five-year period. In balancing supply and demand they should ensure the environment is protected and address the challenges of the future.If the supply of water is unable to meet the demand, water companies will implement schemes to increase supply (such as unused or new sources)  or reduce demand in order to maintain a secure supply of water over lifespan if the plan and beyond. These plans inform the water companies’ infrastructure and investment plans. Water companies that affect or within Wales will consult on their plans with Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government, Ofwat, customers, water users and any other relevant organisations.

Alongside water companies the main organisations involved in water resource management planning in Wales include:

  • Welsh Government sets the legislation and policy direction for water resources and the Welsh Ministers direct water companies to prepare and publish their plans.
  • Natural Resources Wales have a duty to protect the environment and ensure security of public water supply. Our purpose is to pursue the sustainable management of natural resources. We are a statutory consultee for WRMPs and advisor to the Welsh Government for plans affecting Wales. We write the water resources planning guidance (jointly with the Environment Agency and Ofwat) and lead on producing guidance specific to Wales. We will work with water companies when preparing their plans and provide a response as part of their consultation. The Enviroment Agency has similar role for England.
  • Ofwat are a statutory consultee for WRMP and jointly produce the guidance. They determine the extent to, and conditions under which, companies can recover the costs of investment through charges to customers.
  • The Drinking Water Inspectorate asses and ensure the quality of water provided is suitable.
  • The Consumer Council for Water is a statutory consumer representative in Wales as well as England. They represent the view of customers in the water resources management planning process and are consulted on engagement with the public on investment and resources planning issues.

Within Wales over three million people receive a wholesome supply of water every day. Most people are supplied by two main companies, these are:

There are also two smaller companies known as new appointments and authorisations (NAVs) who provide water services to customers within much small parts of Wales using supplies from the larger companies, they are Albion Eco and Leep utilities. Businesses who use large amounts of water (more than 50 million litres of water a year) may be eligible to switch to a different water retailer (check eligibility on the open water website). There are some customers in England who use water supplied from Wales (through United Utilities and Severn Trent Water)  with a small number of customers in Wales supplied from sources in England.

In England regional water resource groups set out at a strategic level how the public water supply will be managed for 25 years or. Their regional plans will take into account the demands of all sectors. Water companies in Wales inform the relevant regional plan in England where they have supply area within England and/or where there are important cross-border shared sources to consider.  Our neighbouring ‘regional group’ being Water Resources West (visit the Water Resources West website). In response to this increased trading between the regional groups the regulators in England have formed RAPID to help accelerate the development of new strategic water infrastructure and inform future regulatory frameworks. It works closely with Welsh Government and NRW where any potential resource schemes maybe within or affect Wales.

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