Thames Water Submits Plan to Address Future Water Supply Challenges

  • Thames Water has submitted a revised draft Water Resource Management Plan which sets out its strategy to provide a secure and sustainable water supply for the next 50 years.
  • The company forecasts that across London and the Thames Valley it will need an extra 1 billion litres of water every day.
  • The company has consulted with customers, listening to feedback from communities, stakeholders and regulators to refine the plan. 

Thames Water has recently published its Statement of Response, and revised draft Water Resources Management Plan (rdWRMP24) which sets out the actions and investment needed to deliver a secure and sustainable water supply, for the next 50 years and beyond.

This follows an extensive public consultation between December 2022 and March 2023, where the company carefully reviewed and listened to customers, local communities, and stakeholder groups, with their feedback shaping the plans. 

The company forecasts that it will need an additional billion litres of water every day, enough to fill approximately 400 Olympic sized swimming pools, for its customers by 2075 to accommodate climate change, growing population and to reduce the amount of water taken from rivers and chalk streams to protect the environment. 

The company has been working collaboratively with Water Resources South East (WRSE) and neighbouring water companies to co-ordinate a regional response to the challenge. This collaborative approach has allowed the water companies to look beyond their own boundaries and make the right decisions for the whole of the region.

Nevil Muncaster, Strategic Resources Director at Thames Water, said, “The scale of the water resource challenge means we must make bold decisions and act now to ensure we have the water we need for generations to come. Given this, we must find ways to adapt to our changing climate, supply water to more people as our population grows, and reduce the amount of water we take from our rivers and chalk streams to protect the environment.

“Investing in and building new infrastructure is integral to the plan and we’re calling on the government to support ambitious projects, including a new reservoir in Oxfordshire and a river abstraction and water recycling scheme in West London.” 

The revised plan also reflects revisions to the forecasts for population growth, using up-to-date information from local authorities and the Office for National Statistics. 

Lee Dance, Organisational Director at Water Resources South East, said, “Our revised regional plan has been shaped by feedback from the public and sets out the investment needed to meet the predicted water shortfall across the South East.

“Delivery of the plan is essential to address the impact of climate change and population growth while making water supplies more resilient to drought and enabling more water to be left in the region’s rivers and streams.”

Thames Water’s revised plan includes:

  1. Finding and fixing leaks: the company has committed to more than halve leakage from both its pipes and customers’ pipes by 2050.
  2. Using water wisely: the most significant change to its plan is the government’s demand reduction requirements. The company has committed to reduce daily water use to 110 litres per person by 2050, with current water use in the area at around 140 litres per person, this will be very challenging.
  3. A new river abstraction on the River Thames close to Teddington Weir supported by water recycling, with a completion date of 2033. There will be ongoing work to ensure the scheme will not cause any environmental deterioration, to progress the design of the scheme and to continue to engage with the local community. This scheme would be used in response to drought.
  4. A new reservoir in Oxfordshire: The South East Strategic Reservoir Option (SESRO), with a completion date of 2040. The size of the reservoir has increased from 100 Mm3 to 150 Mm3 to ensure the company can provide a resilient and sustainable water supply for future generations. The reservoir would be developed with Affinity Water and Southern Water, to provide water across the South East.