Water industry debates challenges post Water White Paper

UK water industry experts gathered in London today (February 2) to discuss the future of the water industry following the release of the Government's Water White Paper (WWP).

As part of the half-day seminar delegates heard from a host of water sector representatives, who each offered insight and reaction to the Government’s WWP, as well as outlining challenges the sector is facing.

In particular, speakers agreed that water scarcity as a result of climate change and population growth is becoming an increasing issue for the UK.

Kicking off the morning session parliamentary office of science and technology (POST) and seminar chair David Mowat noted that the “average use of water per head has almost doubled since privatisation”, adding that as a result the sector must find a way to manage the UK’s stressed water resources.

Following on, Defra director of water, floods, environmental risk and regulation Sonia Phippard said that in the UK “we can already see water resources under pressure”, which she added “will have serious implications for users and ecosystems”.

She added that Defra is calling for a “real valuing of water” and questioned whether the structure of the sector is ready to deal with increasing demand on water resources.

Meanwhile, she added that affordability is major concern for consumers and noted that “we can’t grow our economy without a sustainable and affordable water supply”, adding that Defra wants a “better market in abstraction licenses to make it easier for businesses to access water in the volume and location they want”.

As a result, Ms Phippard said the Government will be launching a campaign later this month to support non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and businesses by offering them guidance on these issues. She added that Defra wants to provide a “fair approach which recognises businesses needs on use and sustainability”.

Delegates also heard reactions from a range of stakeholders, including representatives from Water-Value, CMS Cameron McKenna, Consumer Council for Water, Water UK and Anglian Water.

More insight and commentary post WWP will be available on edieWater soon.

Carys Matthews

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