Strategic Resource Options

Affinity Water’s Strategic Solutions

Along with Severn Trent Water, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Thames Water and Anglian Water we are developing six strategic water resource options to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits for the region and communities we serve. The information on this page is to share with you as we progress these solutions and to explain what is happening, when it will happen and how you can find out more.

Background

We provide on average 900 million litres of drinking water to approximately 3.6 million people, or 1.4 million households every day. The water we supply is currently mostly from local sources, with 65% coming from aquifers (porous rocks that store water below the ground) and 35% from rivers. We often have to move our water a considerable distance from where we take it to where we treat it and distribute it to your tap.

Every five years, Affinity Water is required to produce a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) setting out how it will manage water supplies over a minimum of the next 25 years. The current WRMP was published in 2020. This plan considers the key challenges we face, such as climate change, environmental protection, population growth and the risk of drought, in ensuring a resilient future supply of water for our customers.

Our WRMP prioritised a demand-management approach to ensuring a resilient supply of water. This includes measures such as installing meters, reducing leakage and promoting household water efficiency. However, we acknowledged that at some point significant new infrastructure (such as inter-regional transfers or reservoirs) will be required to ensure we continue to supply enough water to meet our customers’ needs.

The scale and complexity of potential new infrastructure means that long lead-in times are required - we have to be planning for these solutions ahead of time, for them to be 'construction ready' should they be needed. There is some uncertainty to planning far in advance, which involves planning for different futures using different projections of supply and demand. This forward-looking approach to uncertain requirements is referred to as adaptive planning. We are now planning for schemes that may be required for delivery from 2025 and beyond.

As well as a focus on the plans for our company area we are also looking more widely across the region. Affinity Water is a member of two regional groups Water Resources South East (WRSE) and Water Resources East (WRE) - hear more about regional planning from Nick Honeyball , our regional planning lead.

RAPID

To support the progression of strategic options, the Regulatory Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) has been established to help accelerate the development of new water infrastructure. It seeks to improve regulation and remove barriers to help the water sector respond to long-term water resources challenges. RAPID is comprised of representatives from Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

Development funding is available to us and the other water companies who are progressing strategic solutions through RAPID. Ritchie Carruthers (Programme Manager for two of the strategic schemes) talks more about RAPID's gated process and how it has been designed to ensure the funds are spent on time and to quality standards.

Strategic solutions

As part of this adaptive planning process, our WRMP identified a number of strategic solutions that could significantly increase future supply and we have been developing these options as part of our planning process:

  • Minworth: A source of raw water flow augmentation to support either the Severn to Thames Transfer (STT) SRO, the Grand Union Canal (GUC) SRO, or a combination of the two.
  • The Grand Union Canal (GUC): An option that utilises the existing canal infrastructure to transfer treated wastewater from Minworth (STW) in the Midlands to Affinity Water in Hertfordshire and North West London.
  • The South East Strategic Reservoir: a proposed new reservoir located near Abingdon (Oxfordshire) that offers storage and a resilient supply of raw water to the River Thames during periods of low flow, for subsequent re-abstraction in London.
  • The Thames to Affinity Transfer: A raw water transfer that could use a variety of potential source waters (three possible source options SESRO, Severn Thames Transfer or different London- reuse options). Three possible ‘corridors’ have been identified – 1) the fluvial Thames, 2) West London Re-use and 3) East London Re-use, all would include new treatment works and conveyance routes.
  • The South Lincolnshire Reservoir: a proposed new reservoir expected to be located in Lincolnshire. When river flows allow, water would be sourced from the River Witham supported by a transfer from the River Trent. Water could be transferred to the reservoir either by a pipeline or an open water transfer. Local flows from the South Forty Foot Drain will also be incorporated into the design where possible.
  • The Anglian to Affinity Transfer: a proposed new piece of infrastructure that would transfer water from the Anglian Water region to supply Affinity Water customers. The transfer would source water from a new supply to be developed in the Anglian Water region, which could be the South Lincolnshire Reservoir, the Fens Reservoir or a new source from the River Trent.

Gate one reports

In early July we submitted the first stage of the assessment of the SROs, called Gate 1 reports, to RAPID for detailed review. The Gate 1 reports set out the feasibility of the solutions, including how much water they could supply, how much they would cost to build and operate, their carbon footprint and the wider benefits they could bring. RAPID has today published its draft decision for each SRO. We’re pleased to confirm that all the SROs being considered by Affinity Water and partners have passed the first checkpoint in the RAPID process, progressing to the next stage called Gate 2. All the solutions were assessed as “good” .

The Gate 1 reports, additional information submitted to RAPID as part of the review process, and the draft decisions are found in the documents folder on this page.

There is now an opportunity for interested parties to respond to RAPID’s draft decision on the solutions. Representations are invited by email to rapid@ofwat.gov.uk and the representation period will close at 5pm on 8 October 2021. All representations will be considered by RAPID before a final decision is made on 16 November 2021.

Next Steps

The next milestone in the RAPID gated process is gate two in October 2022. Before then, we will be working to develop more detail on each option. Once more detail is available, we will share information on our emerging proposals including identified locations of solutions and routes of transfers with local communities, inviting feedback through a period of consultation.

The regional plan, a draft of which will be published for consultation by both WRSE and WRE in January 2022, will provide more details on whether and when these strategic options are expected to be required.

Given the volume of water stored and deployable output of the schemes, we expect most of these projects to meet the thresholds to be Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). As a result, we would seek permission to develop them through a Development Consent Order (DCO). Following gate two, we will develop our proposals by commencing a programme of pre-planning activities, including comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement, and assessing the potential environmental impacts of each scheme.

We look forward to further exploring these strategic solutions to support a continued resilient supply of water in our region. We expect to be able to share more information on our progress in spring 2022.

Affinity Water’s Strategic Solutions

Along with Severn Trent Water, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Thames Water and Anglian Water we are developing six strategic water resource options to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits for the region and communities we serve. The information on this page is to share with you as we progress these solutions and to explain what is happening, when it will happen and how you can find out more.

Background

We provide on average 900 million litres of drinking water to approximately 3.6 million people, or 1.4 million households every day. The water we supply is currently mostly from local sources, with 65% coming from aquifers (porous rocks that store water below the ground) and 35% from rivers. We often have to move our water a considerable distance from where we take it to where we treat it and distribute it to your tap.

Every five years, Affinity Water is required to produce a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) setting out how it will manage water supplies over a minimum of the next 25 years. The current WRMP was published in 2020. This plan considers the key challenges we face, such as climate change, environmental protection, population growth and the risk of drought, in ensuring a resilient future supply of water for our customers.

Our WRMP prioritised a demand-management approach to ensuring a resilient supply of water. This includes measures such as installing meters, reducing leakage and promoting household water efficiency. However, we acknowledged that at some point significant new infrastructure (such as inter-regional transfers or reservoirs) will be required to ensure we continue to supply enough water to meet our customers’ needs.

The scale and complexity of potential new infrastructure means that long lead-in times are required - we have to be planning for these solutions ahead of time, for them to be 'construction ready' should they be needed. There is some uncertainty to planning far in advance, which involves planning for different futures using different projections of supply and demand. This forward-looking approach to uncertain requirements is referred to as adaptive planning. We are now planning for schemes that may be required for delivery from 2025 and beyond.

As well as a focus on the plans for our company area we are also looking more widely across the region. Affinity Water is a member of two regional groups Water Resources South East (WRSE) and Water Resources East (WRE) - hear more about regional planning from Nick Honeyball , our regional planning lead.

RAPID

To support the progression of strategic options, the Regulatory Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) has been established to help accelerate the development of new water infrastructure. It seeks to improve regulation and remove barriers to help the water sector respond to long-term water resources challenges. RAPID is comprised of representatives from Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

Development funding is available to us and the other water companies who are progressing strategic solutions through RAPID. Ritchie Carruthers (Programme Manager for two of the strategic schemes) talks more about RAPID's gated process and how it has been designed to ensure the funds are spent on time and to quality standards.

Strategic solutions

As part of this adaptive planning process, our WRMP identified a number of strategic solutions that could significantly increase future supply and we have been developing these options as part of our planning process:

  • Minworth: A source of raw water flow augmentation to support either the Severn to Thames Transfer (STT) SRO, the Grand Union Canal (GUC) SRO, or a combination of the two.
  • The Grand Union Canal (GUC): An option that utilises the existing canal infrastructure to transfer treated wastewater from Minworth (STW) in the Midlands to Affinity Water in Hertfordshire and North West London.
  • The South East Strategic Reservoir: a proposed new reservoir located near Abingdon (Oxfordshire) that offers storage and a resilient supply of raw water to the River Thames during periods of low flow, for subsequent re-abstraction in London.
  • The Thames to Affinity Transfer: A raw water transfer that could use a variety of potential source waters (three possible source options SESRO, Severn Thames Transfer or different London- reuse options). Three possible ‘corridors’ have been identified – 1) the fluvial Thames, 2) West London Re-use and 3) East London Re-use, all would include new treatment works and conveyance routes.
  • The South Lincolnshire Reservoir: a proposed new reservoir expected to be located in Lincolnshire. When river flows allow, water would be sourced from the River Witham supported by a transfer from the River Trent. Water could be transferred to the reservoir either by a pipeline or an open water transfer. Local flows from the South Forty Foot Drain will also be incorporated into the design where possible.
  • The Anglian to Affinity Transfer: a proposed new piece of infrastructure that would transfer water from the Anglian Water region to supply Affinity Water customers. The transfer would source water from a new supply to be developed in the Anglian Water region, which could be the South Lincolnshire Reservoir, the Fens Reservoir or a new source from the River Trent.

Gate one reports

In early July we submitted the first stage of the assessment of the SROs, called Gate 1 reports, to RAPID for detailed review. The Gate 1 reports set out the feasibility of the solutions, including how much water they could supply, how much they would cost to build and operate, their carbon footprint and the wider benefits they could bring. RAPID has today published its draft decision for each SRO. We’re pleased to confirm that all the SROs being considered by Affinity Water and partners have passed the first checkpoint in the RAPID process, progressing to the next stage called Gate 2. All the solutions were assessed as “good” .

The Gate 1 reports, additional information submitted to RAPID as part of the review process, and the draft decisions are found in the documents folder on this page.

There is now an opportunity for interested parties to respond to RAPID’s draft decision on the solutions. Representations are invited by email to rapid@ofwat.gov.uk and the representation period will close at 5pm on 8 October 2021. All representations will be considered by RAPID before a final decision is made on 16 November 2021.

Next Steps

The next milestone in the RAPID gated process is gate two in October 2022. Before then, we will be working to develop more detail on each option. Once more detail is available, we will share information on our emerging proposals including identified locations of solutions and routes of transfers with local communities, inviting feedback through a period of consultation.

The regional plan, a draft of which will be published for consultation by both WRSE and WRE in January 2022, will provide more details on whether and when these strategic options are expected to be required.

Given the volume of water stored and deployable output of the schemes, we expect most of these projects to meet the thresholds to be Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). As a result, we would seek permission to develop them through a Development Consent Order (DCO). Following gate two, we will develop our proposals by commencing a programme of pre-planning activities, including comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement, and assessing the potential environmental impacts of each scheme.

We look forward to further exploring these strategic solutions to support a continued resilient supply of water in our region. We expect to be able to share more information on our progress in spring 2022.

  • Regional Planning

    supporting image

    We asked Nick Honeyball (Regional Planning Lead), to tell us a bit about Regional Planning:

    "Back in March 2022 The National Framework set out the role of regional groups – what they must, should and could do – in the delivery of resilient and sustainable water resources for the future.

    For Affinity we embraced this approach, as a company we sit in both Water Resources South East (WRSE) and Water Resources East (WRE) Regions and we have welcomed the opportunity to work with all the companies and stakeholders in these groups to plan together. The regional plans need to increase resilience to drought and other events, deliver long-term environmental improvement, set out how water supplies will be managed across the regions and identify all the options that are needed to secure the region’s water resources for the future.

    Also these regional plans not only consider public water supply needs (which is a statutory responsibility of Affinity and the other water companies) but also the needs of the environment and the needs of all other major water users in the region. Working in this collaborative way has been a real step change for the industry and will enable us to produce a far more informed, resilient and deliverable plan for the future."

    To find out more about regional plans click here for WRSE and her for WRE


  • RAPID Gated Process

    supporting image

    Ritchie Carruthers is one of the Programme Managers looking after two of the strategic schemes ( Minworth and GUC). Ritchie reflects on the function of RAPID and explains more about the gated process they have introduced.

    " The role of RAPID was first introduced to us as companies in the final determinations of our Business Plans back in 2020. OFWAT had recognised the need to help accelerate the development of new water infrastructure and design future regulatory frameworks to help facilitate this. The joint team is made up of the three water regulators Ofwat, Environment Agency and Drinking Water Inspectorate. With the idea being to provide a seamless regulatory interface, working with the industry to promote the development of national water resources infrastructure that is in the best interests of water users and the environment.

    As part of the process RAPID introduced a gate staged process to ensure as water companies we complete the activities expected in a manner that is efficient, timely and of a high quality in order to release the additional funding to develop a Strategic Resource Option onto its next stage. The process allows for cross-comparison of the solutions at regular intervals, to identify the best opportunities for optimum results and at each stage we need to submit evidence to demonstrate our progress.

    We are now at a key milestone - gate 1, and is been a really interesting process. Both collaborating with other companies but also working really closely with RAPID and the other regulators to ensure we all drive towards understanding and developing these key strategic solutions for our customers and our regions. We have now made the first step but there is a long way to go! But the process is working, we have learned alot and I am looking forward to continuing to progress understanding on the SROs through to gate 2".

    The detailed timeline is below:


Page last updated: 21 October 2021, 11:43