South East Rivers Trust

SES Water needs to hear from you!


This is the fourth in a series on blogs focusing on the Water Resource Management Plans for the water companies operating in the south east. To find out what these plans are and why they are important, read our Introduction Blog.

Blog Four: SES Water

SES Water supplies an average of 160 million litres of water a day to 688,000 people across Surrey, West Sussex, Kent and South London. Take a look at their supply area below.

As with all water companies across the UK, SES Water is currently consulting on their Water Resource Management Plan, which outlines how they will continue to supply water for the next 60 years (2020 to 2080), as well as their Business Plan which shows how your bill may be affected in the next five years (2020 – 2025).

The consultation is open until the 25th May. 

Whether you are a customer of SES Water, or an interested party, don’t miss this opportunity to have your say on their plans and how they will affect the local environment. Read our blog to find out more about SES Water’s proposals and the different ways you can have your say.

Key Statistics:

  • SES Water supplies an average of 160 million litres of water each day to 688,000 people.
  • On hot days, this can rise to 260 million litres.
  • 85% of this water comes from underground reserves in the North Downs, including the River Wandle and Hogsmill.
  • 15% is abstracted from the River Eden during winter, and stored at the Bough Beech Reservoir.
  • SES Water customers use 150 litres per day, higher than the national average.

Key Improvement Areas

SES Water’s proposal is very reliant on reducing demand, and does not consider the multiple benefits of investing in more sustainable sources of water.

  • SES Water has outlined ambitious and welcome targets to reduce leakage and install meters in 80% of their customers’ households.
  • However, with such a high proportion of their water supply coming from groundwater (85%), their supply is vulnerable to weather patterns, particularly extended periods of low rainfall when the groundwater is not replenished.
  • In creating their plan, options on the supply side were explored including expanding the capacity of Bough Beech Reservoir. However, these fell down at the cost and technical difficulty stage.
  • Investing now in such schemes, while an upfront investment would be needed, would make their water supply more sustainable, and allow them to reduce their impact on some of the more vulnerable systems they abstract from.

SES Water should aim to stop abstracting from our vulnerable chalk streams and look to more sustainable sources of water. 

  • SES Water abstracts from underground reserves in the North Downs which feed chalk streams, including the Hogsmill and Wandle in South London.
  • Chalk streams are globally rare habitats with only 200 worldwide and it is our duty, and SES Water’s duty, to protect them for future generations.
  • We know both the Wandle and Hogsmill are suffering from low flows (pictured right). Read our blog here about the recent low flows on the Wandle during trout spawning season.
  • We want to see SES Water invest in more sustainable water sources, such as expanding Bough Beech Reservoir or building new reservoirs. This will help reduce the need to take additional water from the environment in times of drought and allow SES Water to move away from abstracting water from such sensitive habitats.

SES Water should invest more in reducing leaks and reducing water use

  • Each day, an average of 24 million litres is lost within the network. Given the south east of England is classified as seriously water stressed, this is an unnecessary loss of water.
  • SES Water should invest more in identifying and reducing leaks, both on the supply side and also the customer side.
  • SES Water should do more work with local organisations to promote water saving and help customers reduce the amount of water they use. The more people and organisations these messages are coming from, the better.

How will this work affect my water bill?

The Water Resource Management Plan is for 60 years, but SES Water is also consulting on their draft Business Plan which shows what they plan to deliver in the next five years, and the effect this will have on your water bill.

In the Draft Business Plan, SES Water outlines Five Pledges to you as the customer and the effect delivering these will have on your bill. Take a look at them below.

For us, we are very interested in two of the pledges and urge you to put your support behind these in your response to SES Water, and perhaps push SES Water to do more.

  • To truly provide a service fit for now and in the future, SES Water needs to consider more sustainable sources of water such as reservoirs. The upfront cost of these will be outweighed in the longer term by a safe water supply and recreational/wildlife opportunities and allow them to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • Reducing the volume abstracted from the underground reserves that feed our precious and vulnerable chalk streams will help support a thriving environment. Where reducing abstraction is not possible, SES Water should fund river restoration to help mitigate their impact and adapt rivers to low flows.

How to I respond to SES Water?

The consultations for the Water Resource Management Plan and Business Plan are separate.

To respond to the Water Resource Management Plan, complete their online survey here.  Any points you wish to make which are not covered by their questions, you can add to the final box.

To respond to the Business Plan, complete their online survey here. Again, there is a box at the end to add in any points you wish to highlight to SES Water.

We hope you find the time to respond to both as every voice counts in protecting the environment.

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