How to write and publish a drought plan

How to prepare, write and publish a drought plan if you’re a water company based entirely or mainly in England.

A drought plan sets out what actions you’ll take before, during and after drought to maintain a secure supply of water. It also sets out how you’ll assess the environmental effects of your actions to maintain supply and what you’ll do to mitigate for damage.

The word ‘must’ means it is a statutory requirement. A company that does not follow a ‘must’ is at high risk of producing a plan that is not valid, unless it can provide a very strong reason for not doing so.

The word ‘should’ means the advice should be followed to produce a valid plan. To avoid delays to the decision on publishing your plan you should include justification in any cases where you have not followed a ‘should’.

You must produce a drought plan if:

  • there’s been a change in your circumstances, for example if you’ve applied for a drought order or permit that wasn’t in your plan
  • a drought has shown your previous plan to be inadequate
  • you’ve been directed to by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for example if your plan no longer adequately sets out how to maintain a secure supply of water during drought

In any case, you must publish your draft plan for consultation no more than 4 years and 3 months after the date when your plan (or revised plan) was last published.

You must send your drought plan to the Secretary of State. If your plan will affect sites in Wales you must also send it to Welsh ministers.

If your company is based entirely or mainly in Wales contact Natural Resource Wales.

Prepare your plan

Before you write your drought plan you must hold preliminary discussions, write and distribute a draft plan, and hold a consultation on it.

  1. Before you write a drought plan

    • Guidance

Write your plan

Your plan must identify drought triggers to show when actions are needed to maintain a secure water supply and what each action is. Your plan must set out how you’ll monitor the effects of a drought and the actions taken under the plan. You must also set out what mitigation and compensation measures you plan to make to minimise the impact of your actions on the environment.

You must also write an environmental assessment which sets out the consequences of your planned actions on the environment. An environmental monitoring plan is also needed which sets out the monitoring you’ve used or will use to inform your understanding of the environment that may be affected by your plan.

  1. Write a drought plan

    • Guidance
  2. Drought plans: environmental assessment and monitoring

    • Guidance

Publish your plan

You must send your plan to the Secretary of State before you publish it and follow any statutory directions that they issue. A statutory direction is a specific instruction given by the Secretary of State that is legally binding and must be followed by water companies.

Address for the Secretary of State

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Drought Plan, c/o Water Resources Policy, Area 3D
Nobel House
17 Smith Square


  1. Send and publish a drought plan

    • Guidance
Published 20 July 2015
Last updated 20 April 2017 + show all updates
  1. Text updated: you must publish your draft plan for consultation no more than 4 years and 3 months after the date when your plan (or revised plan) was last published.
  2. Changes include: asking companies to look at a range of drought events, including a strong recommendation to consider plausible droughts beyond the worst drought on record and explain why if they haven’t; asking companies to consider the necessity for resilience options for events beyond what their supply system is capable of; clarification of our expectations for environmental assessment, mitigation and compensation (particularly with reference to what should happen at each stage ie before, during and after a drought); clarification of our expectations for companies to supply information on proposed drought permits and orders; clarification of what we expect in a monitoring plan; addition or update of links to the latest research or resources; other changes to update wording or references for clarity or to reflect policy and legislative change (ie move from 3.5 year cycle to 5 year cycle)
  3. First published.