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Green Recovery Plan for the UK Water Sector

25 August 2022

In our article last month, we highlighted the state of our UK water infrastructure assets and supplies and outlined the challenges that lie ahead for the wider water industry as a sector to try and combat the effects of climate change, ageing and inadequate systems and a general under investment in water infrastructure management.

There is clearly a growing need to radically improve existing water supplies and to explore newer and more innovative ways to promote greater water efficiency and water conservation.

The good news is that the water industry is now focussed on trying to sustain, maintain and create new greener water infrastructure plans to make it more resilient and future-proof.

Read on to learn more about the green recovery plans outlined for the UK water sector and find out about how adopting a more integrated approach to water infrastructure planning could create a more sustainably driven future.

Green recovery plan UK urgent after driest July on record in 2022
A scorched England - in 2022, the UK recorded the driest July since 1935

Challenges ahead to create sustainable water infrastructure

Historically, here in the UK we’ve always been known for our rainfall, but this is now severely threatened by the effects of climate change which is predicted to increase the scarcity of water supplies significantly.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of our water supply and sewerage services the water industry faces a key challenge predominantly caused by our now very unpredictable weather which is susceptible to shortages with long periods without rain and yet an ever-increasing demand.

This is now clearly evidenced with July 2022 recording the driest month in England since 1935.  

Ofwat green recovery plans and sustainable infrastructure planning measures

Adopting a greener approach was initially introduced by Ofwat along with the environment agency and Defra after they challenged the water companies to look for ways to support recovery from the pandemic whilst also aiming to reach Net Zero targets with greener initiatives to water supply and overall water infrastructure planning.

The water industry is responding to these challenges with a dual approach of increasing supply and reducing demand.

The water companies are investing £2.8bn to support Ofwat’s 5-year plan covering the period from 2020 - 2025 to help fund and deliver environmentally led projects and more sustainable infrastructure planning. According to Ofwat - an additional £850m has been earmarked for “green investment projects” which will support innovative green technologies as well as deliver new green messages and measures to help with the promotion and education of using less water in business and at home.

This all signals a much more positive future, with many measures being adopted in a bid to reduce environmental burden whilst improving water quality and efficiency.

But more needs to be done and we strongly believe that sustainable water infrastructure requirements need to be considered holistically with developers to practically plan from the outset so that the water companies and developers can collectively deliver more sustainable infrastructure without impeding growth or causing further environmental damage.

water saving shower head to represent sustainable water infrastructure for UK housing developers
Ofwat’s 5-year plan will support innovative green technologies as well as promotion and education of using less water in business and at home

Greener approaches to water infrastructure planning

With the new regulatory framework now in place, Ofwat are now reporting on the performance of the water companies annually with financial incentives in place to drive more economical water consumption and improved water efficiency.

Water companies therefore have a significant duty of care to meet the Water Services Infrastructure (WSI) needs of development by providing water services that adhere to and comply water supply regulations.

To achieve this, developers and developer services planners should actively engage and liaise with the Environment Agency and associated regional water provider so that they all mutually understand each other’s processes and procedures.

With a shared and unified understanding of the issues and challenges they face, they can collectively address and promote potential solutions to drive efficient and sustainable water infrastructure from the early stages of planning application through to delivery.

By adopting this unified approach, it can further support developers to thoughtfully plan and consider the strain on water services infrastructure whilst evaluating wider environmental impact to manage a more sustainably driven future.  

For more information about sustainable development in the implementation of water services please refer to the detailed planning framework in the water services infrastructure guide issued by the UK government.

Water Infrastructure Planning Services from Aquamain

Having acquired over 2 decades of experience across the entire water management lifecycle, we have a deep and insightful understanding of the complexity of the water industry and associated water industry regulations.

We can act as an effective technical consulting bridge between the local water company and a developer’s water infrastructure and services plan to provide best in class water management consultancy services to help developers navigate their water strategy and water provision plans.

Whether you need advice, a quotation, help or you just want to talk with someone about the provision of water assets for your Development, the Aquamain team are here to help you – contact us today.

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