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Water resources management planning

Information about guidance and tools for water resources management planning

Water supply

Every day, over three million people in Wales receive a wholesome and plentiful supply of water. These services are provided by five water companies: Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW), Dee Valley Water (DVW), Severn Trent Water, Albion Water and Southern and Scottish Energy Water (SSE Water).

Water regulation

Since the water and sewerage industry was privatised in 1989, a regulatory framework has been in place to ensure that consumers receive high standards of service. Natural Resources Wales is the environmental regulator of water companies in Wales. The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) is responsible for economic regulation and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) is responsible for regulating drinking water quality.

Supply licences

Water companies need water supply licences before they can supply water. They also need to apply to Natural Resources Wales for abstraction licences, which allow them to take water from lakes, rivers and aquifers.

Please see the Ofwat and DWI websites for more detailed information about water industry regulations.

Water resources management plans

Water companies have a statutory duty to prepare, consult, publish and maintain a water resources management plan. Plans are produced on a five-yearly basis and the next plan is due to be published in 2019.

These plans show how the demand for water is going to be managed and met over a twenty-five-year period and are required to take into account climate change projections, population growth and new developments. In doing so, they should address the challenges of the future, including a growing economy and population, Water Framework Directive objectives and the impacts of climate change.

If the supply of water is unable to meet the demand, water companies are required to implement new schemes to increase supply or reduce demand, in order to maintain a secure supply of water. These plans inform the water companies’ future infrastructure and investment plans.

Water companies are required to conduct consultations about their plans and we are a statutory consultee on draft plans. We respond to these by producing a formal representations.

Response statements

After receiving responses to the consultation, water companies must then produce a statement of response, setting out how they have dealt with the representations received. Natural Resources Wales provides advice to the Welsh Government about responses from water companies that are wholly or mainly in Wales. The Welsh Government may request a hearing or inquiry, or direct the company to publish its final plan.

Water resources planning guidelines and tools

The Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, Defra, Environment Agency and Ofwat, have jointly published the technical guidelines for the 2019 Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) for England and Wales. This document is now available here: Water Company Water Resources Planning Guidelines. A series of water resources planning tools will also be produced for the water companies to aid reporting of their supply-demand forecasts. The water resources planning tables and instructions are now available. The water company checklist is also available.

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

Working with partners

Natural Resources Wales works with the Welsh Government, the Environment Agency, Defra and Ofwat to produce guidelines for water companies in England and Wales to follow when they develop their plans. We also work in partnership with UKWIR (including water companies) to produce technical methodologies to support the guidelines.

Annual reviews

As part of the water resources management plan process, water companies have a statutory requirement to produce an annual review and to send a statement of its conclusions to Welsh Ministers. This has to be done before the anniversary date of the publication of their final plans. Natural Resources Wales provides advice on their annual review 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 and provide an overall summary of supply/demand as well as the progress on actions required by Natural Resources Wales or the Welsh Government, after the publication of final plans. The current WRMP annual review guidance is now available from Natural Resources Wales by emailing:

Outturn data

For plans relating to Wales, Water companies need to submit their annual outturn data to Natural Resources Wales by 30 June each year. Companies may also choose to submit this data to Welsh ministers directly, along with their annual review statements. 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.

Where to send annual reviews

If they operate wholly within Wales, water companies should send their annual review statements to Welsh Ministers. If a company's supply area includes parts of both Wales and England, annual reviews should be sent to both Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State. Any questions about the statutory process should be directed to the Welsh Government or Defra.

Welsh Government contact details

Welsh Government
Energy, Water and Flood Division
Water Policy Branch
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Defra contact details

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

Data submissions

These should be emailed to Natural Resources Wales ( or to the Environment Agency (

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