Implications For Water Companies Arising From The Environment Agency's River Basin Planning Consultation

The Consultation

In this article we take a closer look at the current Environment Agency consultation covering River Basin Planning and consider issues for organisations operating in the Water Industry.

The Environment Agency consultation is open now and runs until 24th April 2020. Following the consultation the Environment Agency intends to produce new river basin management plans in 2021. The Environment Agency consultation seeks to identify the challenges threatening water quality, explore how waters should be managed and who should pay for the actions required. Responses to the consultation can be submitted here.

By way of background, around £5 billion is spent each year protecting fresh water assets and to protect public health and wildlife from pollution. However, only 16% of England's groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and seas are close to their natural state and 90% of UK's wetland habitats have disappeared in the last 100 years.

With a view to narrowing the gap between the desired outcomes1 and tackling climate change, the Environment Agency is proposing specific plans for each river basin catchment.

The Environment Agency consultation sets out a number of challenges which require addressing including changes to water levels and flows as a result of our demand for clean water, issues relating to water cleanliness including levels of some pesticides and metals in drinking water protected areas and our use/demand for chemicals, the impact of invasive non-native species and physical modifications to waterways which continue to damage the environment and habitats. The Environment Agency consultation also highlights the challenges around pollution from plastics, towns and cities, agriculture and abandoned mining sites as well as from transport. Pollution caused by the activities of the water industry remains an issue - despite significant improvements and regulation around the use of chemicals in waste water treatment including phosphates and ammonia. As a result, water companies are challenged to further improve their treatment systems.

Issues for the Water Industry

In the consultation the Environment Agency asks what opportunities exist for water companies to collaborate with other sectors and organisations on measures to improve the water environment.

Despite the reduction in the levels of treatment chemicals entering the water, the Environment Agency's Asset Performance Report shows water companies continuing to be responsible...

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