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Sustainability Reductions

We are committed to reducing the amount of water we take from the environment by 42 million litres per day by 2020 and by 78 million litres per day by 2025.

In doing so we are looking to help protect the rare chalk stream habitats found within our company area.

This is crucial, as we serve a growing population of 3.6 million customers in areas which the Government has designated as being under serious water stress. Managing supply and demand for water effectively in these areas will benefit the environment. The sustainability reductions will help improve the flow in six chalk streams where we will also be undertaking river restoration and habitat enhancement work.

Where are we reducing our abstractions?

Between 2015 and 2020, we are ceasing abstraction completely from three sources and reducing the amount of water we abstract from a further three sources by 2020.

River Catchment Average reduction
Beane 16.18 Ml/d (million litres per day)
Mimram 9.09 Ml/d
Ver 5.82 Ml/d
Gade 6.4Ml/d
Misbourne 3 Ml/d
Hughenden stream 1.6 Ml/d
  Total of 42.1 Ml/d

In order to ensure that we are will be able to continue to meet the needs of a growing population for wholesome water after the sustainability reductions come into force, we have an active investment programme which includes installing new trunk mains to transport water to customers, new pumps and boosters to move water to different directions and at different rates, and changes to our treatment and abstraction processes for different areas.

The benefits of our sustainability reductions

Under the EU Water Framework Directive, all rivers are required to be of “good ecological status (GES)” by 2027 unless they have been designated as ‘Heavily Modified’ or ‘Artificial’. For these latter two categories, the Directive states that they must achieve “good ecological potential (GEP)” by 2027. In order to achieve this, in addition to reducing the amount of water abstracted from the chalk aquifer, river restoration and habitat enhancement works are being carried out between 2015 and 2020. We are working with landowners, community groups and catchment partnerships to deliver this work.

We are currently working on river restoration and habitat projects in the following river catchments: Misbourne, Gade, Ver, Upper Lee, Mimram and the Beane. Increasing river flows through sustainability reductions, along with, for example, the removal of weirs and the restoration of natural channels, will allow the natural morphological processes to occur once again in these rivers.

These processes create a mosaic of different habitats with a resulting diversity of aquatic fauna and flora. Where appropriate, the removal of weirs and increased flows will also allow for the free movement of fish up and down the catchments, allowing them to re-colonise areas from which they had previously been isolated. The habitat diversity will create areas for fish to spawn and refuge areas to escape predators, as well as providing ample food sources.

Post sustainability reductions

Baseline monitoring data including spot flow gauging, macrophytes (aquatic plants), macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects and molluscs, crustaceans etc.), channel and habitat surveys have been collected since September 2014 and will continue through to 2020.

This monitoring will help us evaluate the effects and benefits of river restoration and the sustainability reductions on the environment.

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