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Water Supply

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if his Department will introduce a requirement on water companies to submit an application for water scarcity status before seeking permission for any new reservoir capacity. (137610)

No. In their 25-year water resource management plans, water companies are expected to follow the twin-track approach of considering the need for new resources, such as reservoirs, in parallel with the full range of options for reducing demand. New resources should be developed only where the scope for managing demand is clearly insufficient or unjustified in terms of cost.

An application for water scarcity status would have to demonstrate that the measures proposed by the company, taking into account the water resources that are or could be made available, would be insufficient to address the deficiency of water resources.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) merits, (b) practicality and (c) costs of constructing a water grid to enable the transportation of large volumes of water over long distances. (137611)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 900W. The situation has not changed since then.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what volume of water in each region was supplied from (a) watercourses, (b) aquifers, (c) reservoirs and (d) other sources in the last period for which figures are available; what change each figure represents from the previous period for which figures are available; and how demand is expected to change in future years. (138622)

The data in the following table are taken from the e-Digest of Environmental Statistics, published on the Department's website, and shows an average for the whole year of estimated abstractions expressed in daily amounts (mega litres per day). The data originate from the Environment Agency. Estimated actual abstractions differ from the maximum abstraction permissible under the terms of individual abstraction licences. The level of future abstractions will depend on the extent to which abstractors use their licensed capacity together with that abstracted under new licences granted.

Region

2003

2004

Percentage change

North West

Non-tidal surface water

2794

2898

+3.7

Groundwater

342

315

-8.6

Tidal waters

6443

5792

-11 .2

North East

Non-tidal surface water

5857

6215

+6.1

Groundwater

471

490

+4.0

Tidal waters

71

74

+4.2

Midlands

Non-tidal surface water

4850

4664

-4.0

Groundwater

1119

1047

-6.9

Tidal waters

984

1092

+11.0

Anglian

Non-tidal surface water

1558

1546

-0.8

Groundwater

1031

995

-3.6

Tidal waters

5249

5729

+9.1

Thames

Non-tidal surface water

3225

3180

-1.4

Groundwater

1631

1562

-4.4

Tidal waters

1208

1208

0.0

Southern

Non-tidal surface water

1440

1401

-2.8

Ground water

1316

1260

-4.4

Tidal waters

5078

5453

+7.4

South West

Non-tidal surface water

2859

3345

+17.0

Groundwater

565

559

-1.1

Tidal waters

2121

1643

-29.1

Non-tidal surface water includes reservoirs and river abstractions (watercourses).