Multi-million pound investment is needed if Uttlesford is to avoid potential water shortages in the near future

Tap water.

Tap water. - Credit: Archant

AS the district swelters in a level 3 heatwave, bosses at Affinity Water have warned in a report covering 2015 to 2040 that without immediate investment there is a danger of water shortages.

Without action, the firm’s central region, which includes Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow, could face a water deficit – where demand outstrips supply – of around 125million litres per day, the report claims.

Water company chiefs are proposing that around £166m should be spent between 2015 and 2020 to keep up with the increased demand for water, with even more investment needed in the longer term.

Population growth, climate change and changes in rainfall patterns are all placing a strain on resources in one of the country’s driest areas.

Affinity Water has launched a consultation asking people if they want millions spent to reduce leaks – which would cost an estimated £11.3m over five years.

It also asks whether customers think the company should spend an extra £15.5m between 2015 and 2020 to reduce the risk of water restrictions, such as hosepipe bans, during droughts.

These measures would add an average of £18 to customer bills by 2035 – an increase of about five per cent.

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CEO Richard Bienfait said involving customers was “critical to keep the taps flowing in future”.

“While our water resources for this year are fine, we need to plan in detail for a more challenging future with increasing population growth and where increasingly erratic weather patterns could lead to more frequent periods of drought,” he said.

“Our services will remain resilient through our plans to ensure our customers have sufficient, high quality water, with the least disruption, whilst providing value for money.”

By 2040, it is anticipated Affinity Water will have to supply 134,670 properties in Water Resource Zone five, which covers the Essex and Hertfordshire area it is responsible for – a 22 per cent increase.

There is also a plan to introduce compulsory meters across Uttlesford over the next 10 years. It is hoped this will reduce demand by 36m litres per day by 2020.

Head of water resources, Mike Pocock, said the company recognised the need to reduce leakage further and believed metering was a fair way to pay for water.

“We are working hard to save water. We plan to drive down leakage further and we will continue to help customers with leaks on their own supply pipes,” he said.

“We have found that customers with meters reduce their use of water by up to 16 per cent, without any significant change in lifestyle. Meters give customers the opportunity to make savings on their water and energy bills.”

The draft Water Resource Management Plan is available at https://stakeholder.affinitywater.co.uk/water-resources.aspx.

Customers can have their say at talkwater.co.uk or by e-mailing water.resources@defra.gsi.gov.uk

AFFINITY WATER TARGETS

• Significantly reduce leakage to save 20 million litres per day by 2020

• Major capital investment in water resources, water treatment plants and the distribution network between 2015-2020

• Compulsory metering of all central region domestic customers by 2020

• Water efficiency initiatives allowing customers to save money on both water and energy bills

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