Today we launch a seven-week consultation on our Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA ) to support our Water Resources Management Plan 2024 (WRMP24) and our Drought Management Plan (DMP) - Ritchie Carruthers (Environmental Lead for the WRMP) explains more about the SEA Process and why its a really important step in developing a WRMP.
"We are legally required to conduct an SEA so we can assess the effects of our plans and programmes on the environment.
The SEA works to inform the decision-making process - it identifies and assesses significant and cumulative effects our plans may have on the environment and this is done at a strategic level to enable consultation on the potential effects of a plan with a wide range of stakeholders.
This SEA Scoping Report is the first stage of the process and allows us to establish a baseline for environmental, socio- economic and sustainability issues.
However, WRMP24 and our DMP are a bit different compared to previous plans because as water companies we are now working closely with neighboring companies to develop regional water resource plans and so our SEA will be undertaken in that context.
Affinity Water falls largely under Water Resources South East (WRSE), with one zone within Water Resources East (WRE). Our proposed approach to the SEA aligns with the regional methodologies and provides efficiencies through use of regional environmental assessments as a basis for further assessment work as part of the Affinity WRMP24 development.
Please have a read of the report and let us know what you think . Once the consultation closes we will carefully review the responses , and take them into account as far as possible. The final SEA will then be published with out draft WRMP24 in the Autumn of 2022 and with our DMP in the Spring of 2022"
Following a request from DEFRA in March 2021 we have carried out an update of our Water Resources Management Plan 2019 planning tables to reflect a number of changes that have occurred during the first year of AMP7 which have affected the anticipated future supply/demand position.
The key changes, including the assumptions we have made when incorporating them into the updated tables are:
- Leakage. We have updated our forecast leakage to reflect the ‘convergence’ methodology required by Ofwat, and generated a new forecast glidepath that meets the in-year values that are required to meet the Final Determination (FD) target of achieving 20% reduction (on a three-year rolling average basis) during AMP7. Within these updated WRP tables we have then scaled the Active Leakage Control options appropriately from 2025, so that we still reach 50% reduction in leakage by 2045 as per our WRMP19 submission.
- Metering and PCC. We have reviewed the FD targets and generated a suitable glidepath that will achieve the three-year rolling average PCC targets set by Ofwat for AMP7. This is reflected within the updated Final Plan tables. As part of this process, we have also reviewed the most efficient approach to delivering the FD targets, which has changed the balance of activities towards demand management initiatives such as water efficiency checks and media campaigns, with a reduced total number of meters installed. This results in a reduction in the number of meters we plan to install during AMP7 from 239,000 to 200,000. This has been reflected in the tables and rather than reaching a penetration of 78% of properties paying by meter charge we now forecast this to be 75%. We remain committed to demand management as a mechanism to allow us to achieve our environmental ambitions, so propose that we will install the remaining meters in AMP8 in order to reach our intended metering penetration by 2029/30. As part of our new programme of work we are also now contacting customers who are financially better off after a year of the journey to offer them the opportunity to switch earlier, therefore the assumptions in the timing of switching have also been amended to reflect this.
- In terms of COVID-19 pandemic impacts on demand, we have not included this in the table numbers as a PCC impact. This reflects Ofwat’s current view that COVID impacts on FD targets will be reconciled at the end of the AMP, so we have maintained the FD targets in these tables. We have included a demand risk allowance for COVID in Target Headroom, as described below.
- AMP7 Target Headroom. As you are aware, for WRMP19 we deliberately included a large Target Headroom allowance for the early years (11%) that reflected the inherent risks in delivering a large-scale demand management programme. These risks have now largely crystallised and are reflected in the PCC and leakage targets referred to above. We also have defined delivery programmes to achieve these AMP7 targets. We have therefore re-assessed base year Target Headroom as part of our WRMP24 preparation in accordance with best practice methods, and used this as an input to both the ongoing WRSE Regional Planning process and the updated WRMP19 tables presented here. The reduction in risk and uncertainty in the demand management programme means that the AMP7 Target Headroom allowance in the updated tables is reduced, to an industry typical 7%.
- Covid-19 - In recognition of the uncertainty of the lasting impact that Covid-19 will have on both household and non-household demand within the updated tables we have included an additional headroom allowance for this. As per our December 2020 letter that we sent to you, our current best estimate of this impact is 7-12Ml/d by the end of the AMP. For the updated Tables we have therefore taken a mid-range estimate and included 10Ml/d additional Target Headroom allowance (beyond the 7%) to account for residual COVID demand risks throughout AMP7.
- Longer Term Target Headroom Allowances. The WRSE Regional Modelling process uses a scenario-based approach to evaluating future risks and uncertainties, and at the current time there is no agreed Target Headroom allowance for future AMP periods. For the purposes of the table updates we have therefore taken a pragmatic view whereby a trend has been applied so that Target Headroom rises from the new 2024/25 (end of AMP7) value to equal the WRMP19 Target Headroom by 2039/40.
The rest of the information behind our tables remains the same as our published WRMP19 Final Plan. Please see our annual review of our WRMP and updated EA tables which provide more details. If you would like any further information please contact WRMP.Consultation@affinitywater.co.uk and we will be happy to help.
Clare Carlaw (WRMP Community and Stakeholder lead) talks about the collaborative work that has been happening across water companies to ensure as we plan for future water resources we are putting customers at the heart of what we do:
" For several planning cycles now water companies have been engaging customers to understand their priorities and preferences as well as encouraging them to get involved in the water conversation in general. However with the emphasis moving towards collaboration, looking at water resources through the wider regional and even national lens and the recent discussion and consultation documents from CCW and Ofwat which both recognise the benefits of a 'joined-up' approach to customer engagement across the industry - Affinity Water along with the other companies with Water Resources South East (WRSE) have been working on a programme of customer engagement which is really a step up from what we have done in previous WRMPs.
For Phase 1 of the work importantly we didn't start from scratch and looked to review over 100 plus pieces of research and engagement not only from the WRSE companies but we joined forces with Severn Trent, United Utilities, Anglian and South West Water in an industry first - true collaboration at work! We followed this up with both a qualitative phase and a quantitative phase to both fill the gaps and also to start to form the conversation with customer in a wider regional context. The results have been enlightening and we are seeing customers prioritise both the environment and resilience but importantly cost is still a really important factor - especially supporting those who struggle with their bills.
Phase 2 has begun and has really upped the challenge of engaging customers during pandemic as it included a series of co-creation exercises. But by maximising the technology available we have successfully run multiple activities and been able to ensure both a positive experience as well as robust insight. As phase 2 continues it will explore with customers what their preferences are for the regional plan, how they prioritse options and what drives their decisions. It has been a fascinating time to be involved in customer engagement as we move forward as an industry,"
For a summary of the WRSE led Phase 1 work can be found here.