Water companies will be forced to submit resource management plans for public consultation under a new law introduced this weekend.
The Water Resources Management Plan Regulations 2007 for England and Wales makes it compulsory for water firms to publish and consult on both draft and final plans.Since 1999 companies have prepared 25 year resource management plans on a voluntary basis and shared these with the government, regulators and the Environment Agency. On 1 April 2007 these plans become compulsory under changes to the Water Industry Act 1991. Now for the first time they will be subject to public consultation before they are finalised. Environment Minister Ian Pearson said: 'The plans will describe how each company aims to secure a sustainable supply-demand balance for the public water supply over the next 25 years. It is essential that this includes an appraisal of the major challenges ahead from climate change, population growth and housing demand. 'We anticipate that the first public consultations will take place around April 2008, and that final plans will be published between July and August 2009.' The plans will be reviewed annually by the water companies and updated every 5 years. If necessary the Secretary of State can direct water companies to prepare a revised plan before then. They will also help inform the business case for future price limits to be considered by Ofwat at the next Periodic Review in 2009.