The most serious of these challenges are the effects of climate change on our weather, a growing population, more housing, stricter laws on the environment and the state of the economy.
Changes in the climate are predicted to lead to longer, hotter summers and wetter winters – resulting in less rain overall and higher temperatures.
This will put more pressure on already stressed water resources in the South East and increase the likelihood of flooding and pollution.
These challenges will mean we need to work harder just to maintain services at their current levels.
The population in the South East is predicted to grow by 8.1 per cent over the 10 years to 2024 – one of the fastest rates in England and higher than the national average.*
This, coupled with a predicted increase in the number of houses, means we need to supply more water resources and recycle more wastewater over the coming years.
We’re working closely with local councils to understand the predicted growth in each area of Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight so we can plan to meet these needs.
*Office of National Statistics, May 2016
The state of the economy is important, as it is vital that customers are able to pay for their essential water and wastewater services.
We’re working with leading debt charities and trusted third-sector organizations to make sure we’re more effective at identifying vulnerable customers and helping them manage their financial challenges.
Rising energy prices can also put pressure on investment, as the water industry uses a lot of energy to treat and pump water and wastewater.
We rely on the natural environment to run our business and must play our part in protecting and enhancing the land, rivers, sea and underground aquifers we work with. A legislative framework is in place to protect, and improve, the water environment.
This guides how much water we can take from rivers and aquifers, and at what times of the year. Standards are also in place for the cleaned wastewater we recycle to the environment.
These requirements are likely to change and become stricter in the future and this could have a significant impact on the water we currently supply. We must prepare for this and explore ways to work in partnership to improve the environment.