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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/water-resources-planning-managing-supply-and-demand/water-resources-planning-how-water-companies-ensure-a-secure-supply-of-water-for-homes-and-businesses
The government asks water companies to provide a secure supply of water to their customers over a 25-year period, at an affordable price without damaging the environment.
Water companies in England and Wales must produce a water resources management plan (WRMP) every 5 years that shows how they will achieve this.
1. Forecasting supply and demand
Water companies work with local authorities to predict:
- population growth
- future housing and business development
They also use data to predict possible effects of climate change. For example, low rainfall or droughts will reduce reservoir levels or increase the frequency of hosepipe bans.
Water companies use this information to develop options that:
- ensure a secure supply of water
- are resilient to change
- meet customer demand.
Water companies set out the costs and benefits of these options in their water resources management plan.
2. What happens when demand exceeds supply
If water supplies don’t meet demand, the government asks water companies to explore all options to find solutions. These might include, but aren’t limited to:
- reducing leaks
- finding new resources - such as reservoirs
- transferring in water from other areas
- changes to the service customers receive - such as a change to the frequency of hosepipe bans
- increased metering, including compulsory metering
Not all solutions are right for each area. Water companies must show they’ve considered the impact of their proposals on customers and the environment.
The government also asks water companies to develop options with wider shared benefits. For example, by collaborating with other water companies, farmers or environmental groups.
3. Why some water companies introduce compulsory metering
Water meters encourage users to monitor their water usage. Customers on water meters typically use less water per person, and have lower bills than unmetered customers.
Compulsory metering is one option water companies can use to protect the security of water supplies in water stressed areas.
Water stressed areas usually have:
- low rainfall
- high population
The water services regulatory authority (Ofwat) provides further information about metering.
4. Controlling water prices
Ofwat sets the price limits that water companies can charge their customers for water.
Ofwat carries out regular price reviews to make sure prices stay fair and affordable.
5. How customers can get involved
Water companies consult on their draft plans every 5 years and customers can comment on them.
Consultations are normally advertised on a water company’s website. Customers can also contact their water company to find out when they’re consulting.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for technical guidance on writing a water resource management plan and more information about government priorities for water companies.