Increasing demand for water, coupled with prolonged periods of drought, have put existing resources under great pressure and led to concerns that over-abstraction of water may result in ecological damage.
The Institution believes that best use must be made of existing and new water resources, by balancing the need for potable, industrial and agricultural supplies and the sustainability of the environment. The assessment of future available water resources should reflect the most up-to-date projections of the regional effects of climate change and should be based on the concept of integrated catchment management.
Existing water resources
A supply of water sufficient for the basic public health needs of every user is essential and should be available at all times.
Beyond this requirement, demand management measures are needed to reduce the consumption of water and hence postpone or remove the need for new resources. Effective demand management will involve a combination of efficient use, equitable charging arrangements and reduced leakage.
Water saving devices, re-use of 'grey' water and collection of rainwater for garden watering are ways in which existing resources can be used efficiently. Water companies and water authorities should be empowered to carry out water supply audits with mandatory recommendations.
Equitable charging arrangements should be introduced, with tariffs applied to deter high usage of mains water for non-essential purposes such as garden watering and swimming pools. In areas where water resources are known to be under stress, new properties should be metered.
The water companies and water authorities should agree a common basis for measuring losses from the supply network, and should work towards reducing leakage to minimum published levels within five years.
New water resources
Planning of new water resources should proceed in parallel with the adoption of demand management and water re-use measures.
Redistribution of existing abstraction licences, or bulk transfers of water between adjacent companies, should be undertaken where it is necessary to meet inter-regional demands.
When new abstraction licences are required, environment agencies should have regard to overall needs, and require co-operation between water companies to meet additional demands. New abstractions should be allowed only after adequate demand management measures have been implemented and taking into account the sustainability of the resource and the need to minimise the environmental impacts of abstraction.
Where new surface reservoirs are planned, it will be essential to consult with statutory and environmental groups from the outset and to incorporate mitigation measures into the design. Provision for public access and recreation, landscape features and areas set aside for nature conservation should be incorporated to make the proposals more acceptable.
The statutory planning authorities should have due regard for the need for adequate water resources and wastewater facilities where areas of major new housing and industrial development are envisaged. They are obliged to take the advice of the environment agencies and the water companies or water authorities into account when formulating proposals for land use, development control.
All new housing stock should be designed on the basis of water efficiency.