Understanding (quantifying) the reliablity of abstraction licences (source outputs)

I think many (most, but not all) abstractors take some steps to understand the viability of their abstraction licence in respect of the reliability of the abstraction (output) at different times within year and year to year, including into drought circumtances.  I think abstraction reform, including a 'trading' regime, can add useful (valuable) flexibility to how licence holder can mange their abstractions, including in respect of seasonal or year t oyear variability of reliable output.With the right balance of 'rules', I beleive this can be done in a way that safeguards the environment at least as well as the present regime.   However I think a 'devil in the detail' issue may need to surface and be dealt with for an abstraction trading regfime to progress confidently. That is, though many abstractors consider issues of reliablity, there is insufficient ability / mechanism to compare reliability (estimates or requirements); there is no common 'currency' in use to compare across abstractors and licences. (Reliability can vary licence to licence. Some abstractors may hold licences which they are happy to retain or trade even though their relaibility may be different to other licences).  Even within public water supply, the current approach to water resources planning and drought planning allows (perhaps, causes) water companies to have different underlying source reliability (irrespective of what 'levels of service' are stated).  Once other abstractors are considered , the range of understanding of reliability increases.  I'm not saying everyone should necessarily work to the same expected reliability of licence output but, a more common framework and 'currency' of expressing reliability (in terms of what is avialable, what is needed and what will be provided through a trade) is surely important?

Why the contribution is important

I think, if abstractors are to have confidence in making investment decisions based around their licences, they will need to increase their understanding of the reliability they are basing this on, including the reliability that will pertain through an abstraction trading regime and how this reliability will be affected if the regime will be managed  (restricted?) during drought.   I'd be interested to know whether abstractors / other respondents feel this is a key element of progressing confidently?

by NDHepworth on September 08, 2014 at 10:46AM

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  • Posted by abstractionreform September 08, 2014 at 18:01

    One of the advantages of abstraction reform would be that it would introduce a degree of standardisation of abstraction conditions, particularly around hands off flows which go a long way to standardise the expression of reliability of access. This is particularly the case where a shares-based framework is introduced. This should help abstractors understand better how reliable their abstraction permissions are.
    There may also be more that can be done to interpret this information and help abstractors make decisions around how much water their permission would give them in a range of circumstances – potentially including drought.
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