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Mega Thames Water reservoir shelved due to property downturn

Thames Water has this week shelved plans to build a mega £400M, 150M.m3 reservoir in the heart of Oxfordshire after revising its demand forecasts in the light of the economic recession.

The water company said it will not need the reservoir to supplement supplies to London until 2026 at the earliest because of the collapse in the house building market.

It had previously expected to need the reservoir by 2020. Thames Water chief executive David Owens said the economic downturn has had a significant impact on its demand forecasts. “We are now predicting a slower increase in population and household numbers from those outlined in our draft Water Resources Management Plan,” said Owens.

“This, combined with lower commercial water use and customers’ continued efforts to save water following the drought, means that overall demand for water will increase more slowly than previously forecast, particularly in the next fi ve years.”

The company has been forced to update its draft plan to reflect these changes. Owens said additional water resources will still be needed by 2020 but that the company would promote some smaller groundwater abstraction schemes first.

Thames will continue to develop the reservoir scheme to ensure that it can be operational when needed, indicated to be 2026. Key revisions to Thames’ draft Plan include a substantial reduction in the forecast per capita consumption from 157 litres per head per day (l/h/d) to 135 l/h/d by 2035, driven in part by a greater understanding of its customers’ reduced water use during a drought and the downturn.

The plan has also been updated to refl ect the success of its leakage reduction programme, which will see water lost from leaks fall from 688Ml/d to 527Ml/d between 2010 and 2020.  

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