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Press Release

Agency supports government agenda for water



The Environment Agency welcomed the publication today of the government paper 'Water Resources and Supply:Agenda for Action'. The Agency said it would work to implement the measures outlined for it in the paper and would co-operate with other organisations as appropriate to promote the sustainable use of water.

Commenting on the report, the Environment Agency's Director of Water Management Dr Geoff Mance said:

"The recent drought has highlighted the threats posed - to the environment, to consumers and to the economic effectiveness of business - by unreliable water supplies. This paper brings together a range of actions which will help to develop more secure resources for the long term."

Dr Mance said that the Environment Agency was already on the way to addressing the two key actions the government had set out for it. He pointed to the Agency's proposals for a new methodology for estimating water resource yields which were summarised in the government's report. The proposals, currently the subject of consultation with the water industry, would, the Agency believes, allow for a more consistent and accurate estimation of available water.

Likewise, the results of research into the impacts of climate change are being studied by the Agency to assess their impact on water resource yields. The government's report tasked the water companies with studying in more detail how climate change might affect household water use, and Dr Mance said this would also provide essential information for future water resources planning.

Dr Mance said:

"It is not yet clear precisely what impact the fulfilment of the actions oulined in this paper will have for future water resources planning. The outcome, however, will not affect the essential thrust of our strategy which is the increasingly efficient use of water. It is essential that future resource development only takes place when existing resources are being efficiently used and demand is being properly managed."

Dr Mance said that the Agency would revise its own national and regional water resources strategies in the light of any new information, and would work with the water companies to develop new resource development plans in line with its own strategies where necessary.

In the meantime, Dr Mance said, it was important to re-emphasise the need for continued efforts to reduce leakage by water supply companies, and for industry and consumers to minimise waste. He said that the Agency looked forward to seeing the water companies' plans, recently submitted to OFWAT, outlining their programmes for encouraging water conservation amongst their customers. The plans were essential components, Dr Mance said, in the overall approach to sustainable water use.

Commenting on other aspects of 'Water Resources and Supply: Agenda for Action', Dr Mance welcomed the news that the government is to publish a consultation paper on economic instruments in relation to water abstraction. Dr Mance said that the development of water transfer arrangements between companies was a sensible measure for the efficient and environmentally sound management of water resources, and that experiments had shown that a system which allowed for the redistribution of abstraction licences could bring environmental as well as water supply benefits.

Note to Editors:

Under the Water Resources Act 1991, it is the duty of the Environment Agency to conserve, redistribute or otherwise augment water resources and secure their proper use. The Agency is also required to exercise its powers in such a way as to further the conservation of the water environment, including its flora and fauna.

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