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Water White Paper – Water for Life

water droplets

Water for Life describes a vision for future water management in which the water sector is resilient, in which water companies are more efficient and customer focused, and in which water is valued as the precious and finite resource it is. And it explains that we all have a part to play in the realisation of this vision.

Water White Paper coverWhat are the key reforms?

  • Over the long-term we will introduce a reformed water abstraction regime, as signalled in the Natural Environment White Paper earlier this year;
  • We set out changes we can make now to deal with the legacy of over-abstraction of our rivers;
  • We re-affirm our new catchment approach to dealing with water quality and wider environmental issues;
  • We will remove barriers to the greater trading of abstraction licences and bulk supplies of water to make our supply system more flexible;
  • With the Environment Agency and Ofwat we will provide clearer guidance to water companies on planning for the long-term, and keeping demand down;
  • We will consult on the introduction of national standards and a new planning approval system for sustainable drainage;
  • We will make payments to address the historical unfairness of high bills in the South West; and
  • We will encourage water companies to introduce social tariffs to support vulnerable customers.

Delivering the White Paper

There are immediate steps for Government to take in implementing this White Paper, particularly:

  • We will publish a draft Water Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny in early 2012 and introduce a Water Bill as soon as Parliamentary time allows;
  • We will produce a new strategic policy statement and social and environmental guidance for Ofwat during 2012;
  • With the Environment Agency, we will support catchment pilots across the country, with particular focus on 25 which will be evaluated in early 2013;
  • We will put in place new arrangements to work with stakeholders on design of a new abstraction regime in early 2012;
  • We will intensify our efforts to deal with the legacy of unsustainable abstraction, publishing information on progress on the Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programme in 2012;
  • We will publish final social tariff guidance in early 2012; and
  • We will produce a draft guideline for the next water resources management planning round during 2012.

Water for Life includes several proposals for deregulating and simplifying legislation, to reduce burdens on business and stimulate growth. Ofwat’s proposals for reducing its regulatory burdens complement these. The Government’s Red Tape Challenge will offer another opportunity to identify areas where regulation can be simplified or removed.

The extent of the change we face is uncertain. The future is never easy to predict. We can be confident that the way we manage and use our water resources will need to change, but we must still ensure continued secure supplies for households and to support economic growth, and that enough water is left in our water bodies to support a healthy and high quality natural environment. We must safeguard our natural inheritance. We owe it to the next generation.

Additional information

You can read the:

Background information

Keep in touch

To be kept informed of developments email us at waterwp@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Page last modified: 8 December 2011