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Water supply and demand management

Water shortages are an impending risk for the UK. Parts of the country, especially the South East, face a high level of risk from drought, while others will have a surplus. It is estimated that demand for water could outstrip supply by 2035 if the appropriate measures are not taken to bolster supply and reduce demand, a phenomenon the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency has termed ‘the jaws of death’.

The water industry was privatised in England in 1989 and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for policy and for overseeing the complex delivery landscape. The industry has three regulators: the Water Services Regulation Authority (known as Ofwat), the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate. They act as the economic, environmental and drinking water quality regulators respectively. Within the last five years reducing leakage, through which a fifth of the water supply is currently lost, and reducing personal consumption have moved up the agenda. Defra’s key priority is to ensure resilient, sustainable and affordable water services to homes and businesses.

We will report on:

  • the policy and delivery landscape that governs how water is delivered in England;
  • Defra’s leadership and how effectively it uses its influence to deliver its strategic policy objectives; and
  • how well government is delivering its key objective of improving the resilience of the water supply by reducing demand and increasing supply.