Statement on River Itchen and Test Inquiry

We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and we are pleased to have reached an agreement with our regulator which protects the precious and unique environment of our chalk stream habitats whilst ensuring security of water supply for the surrounding area.

We also believe in long term solutions to long terms challenges.

The beauty, world heritage and scientific value of Hampshire's unique water environment demands nothing less than a revolution in thought and action.

And the agreement being struck over abstraction from these precious and special rivers should not distract from the equally important planning that will ensure that generations to come will experience our chalk stream habitats in even better condition than they are now. Our future plans do not rely on increased abstraction from the rivers.

We are already consulting our customers over construction of new water resources – such as a desalination plant and / or water reuse from 2027. We’re also looking at ideas like improving and building a more connected network so water companies can transfer supplies more easily - from 2027 that would include better connections with Portsmouth Water and in the longer term a connection through Bournemouth to Wessex Water.

Details of these £1 billion projects can be found in Water Resources Management Plan. That plan- in an industry first - looks 50 years in to our shared future.

Important as they are, these huge investments are only a tiny part of how we plan to adapt over the next half century.

Our great grandchildren need us to start building in environmental resilience today. In addition to further reducing leakage, we have Target100 - to reduce personal water use to 100 litres a day by 2040 from 133 litres today. That cannot be achieved by asking people to take shorter showers or turn the tap off when brushing their teeth.

The revolutionary approach we all need is called Catchment First.

Catchment First means working in partnership with communities, businesses, landowners, environmental groups, wild life trusts and others to use water in a more efficient way than has ever previously been possible.

Catchment First works through the whole water cycle. For example:

  • Improving land around rivers and stream and separating storm water from sewage systems to gather every drop of rain
  • Helping farmers to reduce the impact they have on water;
  • Ensuring that waste water stops being waste and instead becomes as useful as it was before treatment.

We believe this approach - and the proposals in our Water Resource Management Plan - prove our commitment to our customers and to our environmental stewardship duties not just for today but for the future.

Dr Alison Hoyle, Director - Compliance & Resilience

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