Water Resources West is developing a long-term plan for water resources in the north-west of England, the Midlands and the cross-border catchments with Wales. Water Resources West (WRW) is a new partnership of UU, Severn Trent Water, South Staffs Water, and Welsh Water looking to provide strategic oversight and co-ordination of water resources matters across the river catchments of the North West of England, Midlands and the cross-border river systems with Wales. This will ensure the sustainability of water resources in these catchments. It will also support activity aimed at enabling water resource resilience across England and Wales, including promoting the development of a long-term strategic plan for water transfers as required by Govn.

They have published a preliminary view of the region’s water needs and their ambitions. They estimate that by 2050 an additional 166 million litres per day will be needed for public water supplies, an additional 41 million litres per day needed for other abstractors. There are significant uncertainties in these forecasts but the ambition is to make water resources better in the future extends to wellbeing, environmental improvement, economic growth, resilience and water demand management. The document explores the challenges to address, and methods for producing a plan that meets these needs. They set out their initial resource position, the strategic context and proposed methodology. They have asked for feedback on the document.

A focus of the work is increased resilience to severe drought and companies are increasingly being asked to look at water trading as a solution to this. No deficits are predicted for the UU region, but across the whole area, the largest increases by sector are predicted for agriculture.

We submitted comments answering 6 questions posed. We highlighted the lack of reference to cultural heritage in the document and our concern that national water transfers may have negative impacts for the landscape in future. We reiterated that we would object to any more water being taken from Cumbria to service a national network unless all demand measures possible had been put into place and more sustainable options. We pointed to increasing tensions between reservoirs needing to be full of water to supply customers, but community groups wanting them to be drawn down to provide head room for water storage in times of high rainfall.