Tag Archives: Water scarcity

Thames Water needs to hear from you!

This is the first of 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.

Thames Water is the largest water and wastewater provider in the UK, serving 15 million customers throughout the Thames basin, right from the Cotswolds to the Thames Estuary, where the river meets the sea.

In this blog we will outline their Water Resources Management Plan to help you understand how Thames Water’s proposals will affect your local environment, and highlight what we think are the key points to raise in their consultation to see the best improvement for our rivers and streams.

Their consultation is open until the 29th April so make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to stand up for your local river. 

Currently…

  • Every day Thames Water alone removes 2,600 million litres of water from natural systems, including rivers and the underground reserves that feed our wonderful chalkstreams,  in order to meet our water demands. The more water we use, the more they take and the less there is available for wildlife.
  • 25% of this abstracted water is lost before it even reaches us through leaks in supply pipes. This is an unnecessary loss of our precious water resource.
  • Thames Water have estimated that with increasing population, and decreasing water availability due to climate change, there will be a water shortfall of 864 million litres per day by 2100.

  • There were 1290 incidents of raw sewage flooding last year. Blockages and heavy rainfall can overwhelm the capacity of the current outdated drainage system, causing untreated waste to back up and overflow, entering the environment. See our video of the overflowing Epsom Storm Tanks here.
  • 385 “minor pollution incidents” occurred over the same period. These can be caused by misconnected drainage from residential and business properties, when foul water from sinks, washing machines and toilets, is accidentally entering the surface water drainage system and flowing untreated, directly into rivers.

          Chalkstream experiencing low flows.                      Polluting outfall with “sewage rag”

Key Improvement Areas…

We’ve seen first-hand the threats facing rivers in our region. Thames Water has many opportunities to lessen the impacts they are having on the natural environment and some key areas to improve include:

  • Reducing the amount of water wasted through leakages.
  • Stopping abstraction from our rare chalkstream habitats and use more sustainable sources instead.
  • Increasing capacity and investing more in updating old assets in their sewage system that can no longer cope with the increased population, like the storm tanks.
  • Rectifying misconnected drains and working more closely with partners and local authorities to stop new misconnections occurring.
  • Helping consumers to reduce the amount of water they use at home.
  • Installing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to reduce the volume of surface water getting into the sewer system during storms, which overload the network and often result in pollution incidents.

Have your say…

There is the potential for great improvement to the health of our rivers. We’d like you to help empower Thames Water to make the right decisions by showing your customer support for increased investment in environmental improvement works and calling for some of the actions we have outlined above.

This consultation ends on 29th April.

Got 1 minute? Find Thames Water on Facebook or Twitter using @thameswater and send your views with #yourwaterfuture

Got 5 minutes? Use the Thames Water Interactive Tool so show them how you’d like their spending to be prioritised.

Got a bit longer? Send Thames Water an email at consultations@thameswater.co.uk with your views. We’ve drafted a template you can personalise to help start you off, download it here.

The full Thames Water plans can be found on their consultation page.

Help shape the future of your water supply and protect our rivers

Water companies across the UK are consulting on their Water Resource Management Plans, and as a customer, you have the opportunity to comment on these plans and influence how your money is spent.

What are Water Resource Management Plans?

Since the water and sewerage industry was privatised in 1989, a regulatory framework was put in place to ensure that consumers receive high standards of service at a fair price. As part of this framework, water companies are required to set out how they will balance water supply and water demand; these are the statutory Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs). These plans feed into the price review process, overseen by Ofwat, and therefore affect what you pay on your bill at home.

Why should I respond?

Water affects every aspect of our day-to-day lives, from having a drink to flushing the toilet. The water we use comes from the environment, taken from our rivers and the underground aquifers that feed our rivers. The more water we take, the less there is to support wildlife.

These plans highlight how the companies plan to meet the demand for more water in the next 25 years and therefore it is important your voice is heard to help protect our precious rivers and streams.

Did you know we are “Seriously Water Stressed”?

Despite its reputation, England is not as rainy as everyone thinks. For instance, London actually receives less rainfall each year than cities like Miami, Dallas and even Sydney. This means that the South East of England is classified by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed” and with projected population increases over the next 80 years, all water companies are looking to find more water to meet the increasing demand.

Did you know the south of England is home to globally rare habitats?

The south of England is lucky enough to be home to chalk streams, a globally rare habitat with only 200 remaining worldwide. They are home to many amazing plants and animals, forming the distinct communities uniquely associated with the clean, chalk-purified water.  They rely on there being sufficient water present in the chalk aquifers, and abstraction from these is a serious threat to their existence.

Did you know raw sewage is discharged into our rivers every day?

While these plans are about water resource and water supply to our homes, they are linked to the other function many water companies provide: wastewater. Thames Water and Southern Water provide wastewater services across the south east, taking used water (sewage) from our homes, cleaning it in the sewage treatment works and then returning it to the environment. As part of their sewer network, there are Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). These CSOs act as emergency discharge valves for when the sewer network is overloaded by rainfall, discharging untreated sewage into our rivers and streams to prevent it backing up in pipes and potentially our homes.  The more water we take from the environment, the less natural water there is in the river to dilute these discharges, making their impacts on the ecology of the river worse.

How do I respond?

To respond, you need to know which water company supplies your water.

The plans contain a fair amount of detail and so to help you digest this, over the next 2 months we will be posting a series of blogs on each of water company’s plans to help you understand how they will affect your local environment, and highlight what we think are the key points to raise to see the best improvement for our rivers and streams.

The series will start with Thames Water as their consultation closes on 29th April.

If you can’t wait for our blogs, click your water company’s name below and you will be taken to their consultation page.

Thames Water

SES Water

Southern Water

Affinity Water

South East Water

SERT part of legacy delivering £1.9m for nature

We are delighted that SERT is one of five charitable trusts to have been awarded funding from the Patsy Wood Trust, designed to deliver a lasting impact for the environment.

The projects will benefit rivers, woodland, butterflies and landscapes as well as inspiring young people to care for nature through a new skills and learning centre.

The legacy will fund our new Water For All project, working with businesses and communities across the South East to reduce their water use.

You can read the full press release here: PatsyWoodTrust_JointProjectPressRelease_Nov2017.