Plans revealed to keep region in water for decades
South West Water can confirm the region is set fair for its 12th consecutive year without water restrictions - on the day (Friday May 2, 2008) the strategic plan to keep customers on tap to 2035 and beyond was published.
Reservoirs in the region are now 94% full – 4% higher than at the same time last year and 44% per cent higher than in November 2006 which followed two years of below average rainfall
The South West's 'big three' reservoirs – Wimbleball (98.9%), Roadford (92.8%) and Colliford (90.9%) are all ready to deal with the annual summer surge in demand.
Despite a forecast 12% regional population increase by 2035 and new challenges created by climate change, water resources experts believe the region can cope without building massive and expensive new reservoirs or desalination plants.
Instead, the Draft Water Resources Plan published today puts the stress on managing demand by helping customers to be more water efficient at home and in the workplace.
Operations Director Dr Stephen Bird said: "Research has shown despite the fact that no restrictions have been required since 1996 and no standpipes have operated since 1976, some customers believe there are hosepipe bans somewhere in the South West perhaps because they keep hearing stories about the South of England being short of water.
"Let me reassure everyone the South West is much better placed than other regions. This summer is poised to be the 12th in a row without any restrictions and that's good news for residents, businesses and our many visitors.
"We also envisage a future where, with a little help from our customers, we can sustain that healthy position without the need for costly investment.
"We will be doing our bit by improving our already industry-leading record on tackling leakage, cutting our own water use and making cost effective purchases such as Park Lake and trialling innovative new tariffs and schemes to encourage better use of water."
Chief Executive of South West Tourism Malcolm Bell added: "As a Cornishman in his fifties, I remember a youth plagued by water shortages, hose pipe bans and the threat of standpipes let alone sewage polluting our beaches.
"What a difference thanks to the investment of South West Water in Clean Sweep and their water strategy , we have brilliant beaches and no water restrictions for over 12 years.
"This has enabled us to not only maintain our position as Britain's number one holiday destination but to strengthen it. We have also seen hundreds of our members already reducing their water use, but we have all got a role to play to help keep this record going year after year."
Published on May 2, 2008
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1) The Draft Water Resources Plan and the Strategic Environmental Assessment are available to view and comment on at www.southwestwater.co.uk on the water resources pages of the 'Did You Know' section.
2) Highlights of the Draft Water Resources Strategy include projections of population growth and the impacts of climate change. It stresses managing demand by encouraging water efficiency measures for domestic and business customers.
3) South West Water will be tabling several new water conservation proposals to its regulator Ofwat for the next year five year pricing period. These include plans for the company to radically reduce the use of water in its own treatment processes and an incentive scheme to encourage businesses to invest in water efficiency devices.
4) Measured on number of litres lost per day per kilometre of pipe, South West Water has the equal best record in the industry.
More than £7million is being spent on tackling leakage this year with the aim of moving towards a target of fixing serious leaks within 24 hours and all leaks within three days. However this target is dependent on close co-operation with local councils and highways authorities.
5) South West Water has met or bettered its leakage targets (currently 84 mega litres per day) every year since they were first set. Our above the national average performance means we are saving an extra 34,500 mega litres per year – nearly enough to fill Roadford Reservoir again or the new Wimble stadium 30 times over.
6) The company's water resource strategy is based on the 'big three' reservoirs (Roadford supplying Plymouth and South Devon, Wimbleball supplying Exeter, North and Mid Devon and Colliford supplying Cornwall) supported by 13 local reservoirs plus aquifers and boreholes (mainly in East Devon).
Park Lake, a former china clay pit near Bodmin, was recently acquired as a new reservoir for South East Cornwall with capacity for 7,700 million litres of water.