We received 38 comments from a range of individuals and sectors including energy, water, consumers and canals on our ideas posted on the online dialogue.  This included one contributor posting their own idea.

Why the contribution is important

Paying for reliable discharges / paying compensation for changes to discharges

There was general feeling that it would not be fair or reasonable for either downstream abstractors to pay water companies for reliable discharges or for water companies to pay abstractors compensation for changes.

Comments raised issues around the practicalities of any payment / compensation schemes, for example, how it would work including calculation of payments.

The Consumer Council for Water was worried that customers’ bills would be affected if water companies had to compensate abstractors. They also felt it was potentially unfair if water companies were making changes in order to be progressive and make better use of the limited water available in that river or catchment.

Logistics of actually getting any water paid for

A number of comments made the point that there was no guarantee that downstream abstractors who paid to guarantee supply would actually receive the water. One reason for this could be because other abstractors upstream who had not paid for reliable water might abstract it before it reached those further downstream that had paid or because there could be low flows in a river caused by other factors.

Planning for change to a discharge or to water availability generally

Many said that as no abstraction licence guarantees a supply of water, downstream abstractors should already be planning for risks to their supply. Current risks could already involve water companies altering discharges upstream. However in order to plan for such risks, both potential and existing abstractors would need information about discharges, for example; historic and future projected flows.

One suggestion was that there was a role for the Environment Agency (EA) in ensuring such information was available and informing downstream abstractors of any potential risks and planned changes. Another suggested that EA should also be assessing the impacts on abstractors if/ when Water Companies applied for changes to discharge permissions.

Timescale for any changes to discharges

Energy UK suggested that any changes to discharges should be made over the long term (up to 30 years) and that 5 or 6 years’ notice was not sufficient for those with major assets, suggesting that the current WRMP process (updated every 6 years) was not the appropriate vehicle. They suggested there should be a different stakeholder process to tackle this.

Water companies considering the impact of any change

There was some agreement that water companies should consider the societal impacts of any possible changes to discharges, if they were either decreasing their volume or changing their location. It was suggested that water companies should incorporate any changes into their planning processes.

Energy UK – general points made about discharges

Energy UK welcomed DEFRA’s intention to get a better appreciation of the issue because they felt that it was of such potential importance to society as a whole.

They felt that abstractors should take responsibility for managing the risk that their abstraction licence might not be sufficient for their use.

In the case power generation, the impact of a change and not having enough water may have wider societal consequences such as impacting on reliable power generation and also on electricity costs.

They suggested that water companies should be required to obtain permission from the regulator to modify a discharge before taking any action to do so. They also suggested a possible process for getting such permission.

Additional idea

That water companies should be incentivised to return treated sewage effluent upstream instead of discharging it into the sea, allowing it to be used by others.

by abstractionreform on June 24, 2015 at 06:16PM

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