Where does our water come from?

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90% of our supply comes from surface water sources, such as reservoirs and river intakes. Local reservoirs are supported by three large strategic reservoirs: Colliford,Roadford and Wimbleball.

The other 10%of our supply comes from groundwater sources such as springs, wells and boreholes and are mainly located in East Devon.

This is different to other regions - for example, Wessex Water gets 75% of its water supplies from groundwater.

During the winter months, when river levels are healthy, we abstract water from rivers with the reservoirs providing back-up supplies. The river and reservoir systems are linked together by a network of pipes, which enable us to transfer water around the region.

Initially we make use of the 17 smaller, local reservoirs. When the storage level in these reservoirs drops to a certain level, we make use of the large, strategic reservoirs, Colliford, Roadford and Wimbleball.

By using the network of pipes we are able to move water around to balance dry periods in one part of our region with wetter periods in another. We are also able to pump water from rivers into our reservoirs, rather than waiting for them to refill naturally.  

Changes since 1996

Since 1996 (the last year our region had water restrictions):

  • We have reduced leakage from our network of pipes by 40%
  • 80% of domestic customers now have meters (compared with 8% in 1995). Customers who switch to a meter tend to use 15% less water as a result

We have invested heavily in making sure we have secure supplies:

  • We have been innovative in ways of increasing our reservoir storage, for example converting two former clay pits in Cornwall at Park and Stannon
  • We have invested in pump storage schemes at Wimbleball and Colliford to improve resilience
  • We have increased the capacity of our water treatment works
  • We have improved our ability to move water around the region
  • We have improved the efficiency of our works.

Banner photo by Mark Champion