FL09June - Page 8

Angling Trust Rejects Thames Water’s ‘High Risk’
Water Resource Management Plan
New reservoir urgently needed to reduce abstractions from threatened rivers
In response to Thames Water’s draft
2019 Water Resource Management
Plan (WRMP), the Angling Trust has
called for the long-promised investment in a new reservoir at Abingdon
in Oxfordshire to begin immediately
rather than delayed until 2044.
The Trust believes that the over
reliance on demand management and
leakage in the current plan is woefully
inadequate to save the disappearing
chalk streams and other rivers of the
south east of England. Thames Water
had previously promised to work
towards ceasing abstractions from all
chalk streams in its area.
Every five years, each water company in England is required to produce a revised WRMP to plan for how
the necessary water resources will be
provided over the next investment
period. Due to the pressures of climate change and population growth,
many water companies in areas of
‘water stress’ (particularly the south
east) are now producing plans looking
ahead over much longer periods. In
the case of Thames Water – the company supplying the greatest number
of households – plans are looking forwards 80 years.
The last reservoir built in the south
east was Farmoor in 1976 and since
then the population in the region has
increased massively. Ten years ago, in
a previous iteration of their WRMP,
Thames Water proposed to build a
hugely significant new storage reservoir near Abingdon in Oxfordshire.
The reservoir has the potential to
reduce the reliance of Thames Water
and other surrounding water companies on abstractions from chalk
aquifers, which provide the lifeblood
of our precious chalk streams. This is
particularly applicable to Affinity
Water, which supplies water to much
of the north London population but
has virtually no surface water storage
facilities whatsoever, relying almost
exclusively on abstraction from
groundwater supplies. The Abingdon
Reservoir, with a capacity of 281 million litres a day, will take surplus
water from the Thames in the winter
and allow transfers down the river at
times of low flows to abstraction
points downstream. This in turn will
allow reduced abstraction from
threatened rivers like the Chess and
In the latest draft of the WRMP that
is currently out for public consultation, Thames Water have sought to
avoid investing in increased water
storage by pushing back the planned
construction of the reservoir until the
2040s. Instead, the company has put
an emphasis on reducing leakage by
15% over the next five years and
demand management measures,
including increased smart metering.
However, they have already been
heavily fined for failing to hit leakage
targets last year and are likely to be so
The Angling Trust believes that
these measures are inherently highrisk, do not provide the resilience
required to manage water supplies in
the context of increasingly variable
weather events, and offer customers
poor value for money. The Trust
believes that the only way to ensure
reliable water supplies for a growing
population and ensure that future
abstractions are sustainable is for
Thames Water to develop a ‘twintrack approach’ of investment in
infrastructure and storage to develop
new water supplies and increase
resilience, whilst simultaneously
bearing down on leakage and
demand management.
T h a m e s Wa t e r h a v e u t i l i s e d
advanced demographic modelling to
project that there are likely to be an
additional two million people living in
their region by 2045, and an additional five million by 2100. Such population growth, combined with
increasingly extreme weather events,
means that should no further water
resources be developed there will be
a shortfall of approximately 864 million litres per day – or the equivalent
of six million people being without
James Champkin, Campaigns Officer for the Angling Trust, explained:
“Most people think of the UK as a wet
country, but the South East of England actually experiences a drier climate than Sydney. The South East is
designated by the Environment
Agency as an area of serious water
stress, and its supplies are at a critical
point. Last year, many of our most
cherished chalk streams around London ran dry for months.
“At the moment, the water companies simply do not have the resilience
in infrastructure to cope with dry
periods without destroying our rivers
but Thames Water now has the opportunity to take a leading role in longterm environmental stewardship. We
are calling on them to bring forward
the construction of the long-overdue
new reservoir at Abingdon to harvest
surplus water to use during times of
scarcity, and keep our precious rivers
flowing. We are also urging anglers to
make their voices heard by the deadline of April 29th.”
Paul Jennings, Chairman of the
River Chess Association, said: “In the
South East of England we have the
highest concentration of population,
the driest climate in the country and
the greatest dependency on groundwater for domestic and business supply. It should be no surprise that the
water supply system is under great
stress. We have six water companies
supplying this region and there is no
co-ordinated plan to capture, distribute and supply water. With more
volatile and extreme weather this
needs to be addressed now, we
require immediate additional reservoirs to capture water in times of
plenty and pipelines to enable high
volume water transfer around the
The Angling Trust has produced a
useful guide to assist and encourage
anglers, angling clubs and river
groups in responding to the public
consultation by the April 29th deadline. n


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