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MAINTAINING A SUSTAINABLE WATER SUPPLY

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The ways in which water companies should prepare and publish their plans for managing water resources are the subje...
The ways in which water companies should prepare and publish their plans for managing water resources are the subject of a Government consultation launched today.

The plans are a requirement of the Water Act 2003, and contribute to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the water supply. Previously water companies have prepared resource management plans on a voluntary basis. The consultation published today marks a shift towards those plans becoming a statutory requirement.

The proposed regulations outlined will allow for greater transparency and consistency, and greater involvement of stakeholders. They cover five main areas:

* How water companies should publish draft water resources management plans

* The bodies to be consulted on draft plans

* How water companies should take account of representations on draft plans, and what they would have to do in responding to those representations

* A provision for water resource management plan inquires to be held

* How water companies should publish their final water resources management plans.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley said:

'Water resource management plans take a long-term view, but there is no doubt that the impact on water supplies of the prolonged period of dry weather in the South East has highlighted their importance.

'Effective planning, informed by stakeholders views, will enable water companies to respond effectively to changes in the demand for and the availability of water, as a result of, for example, demographic change and climate change.'

The consultation is supported by a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment and runs till 25 April 2006. The full consultation document is available online at www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/default.htm or in hard copy by writing to Dawn Instone, Room 304, 55 Whitehall c/o 3-8 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HH.

Notes

1. Water companies are under a statutory duty to supply sufficient water to meet demand for domestic purposes, whether from new or existing customers. To help them fulfil this duty water companies have, since 1999, prepared voluntary water resource plans that describe how each company aims to achieve a sustainable supply-demand balance for the public water supply.

2. The Water Act 2003 makes it a statutory requirement for water companies to produce water resources management plans and submit them to the Secretary of State (or National Assembly of Wales). It provides for regulations to be made to enable water companies to produce and consult on water resources management plans (section 62 of the Water Act 2003).

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