£1.6 Billion Infrastructure Investment To Improve Water Quality
The government has announced that it will be investing more than £1.6 billion in vital infrastructure around the country, with the aim being to improve water quality in lakes, rivers and coastal waters, while securing water supplies for the future.
The news comes as ministers ready themselves to publish the Integrated Plan for Water, setting out how cleaner and more plentiful water can be achieved for generations to come.
The hope is that this new level of investment will make sure that improvements are delivered more quickly to address unacceptable amounts of pollution in waterways, while delivering for customers at the same time.
Unveiled in draft form by industry regulator Ofwat, the plans include major new projects like the rolling out of smart meters, modifying reservoirs, increasing water resilience, acceleration of regional storm overflow reduction plans, upgrading assets and storage to reduce discharges and improving wastewater treatment infrastructure.
Water companies will also commit £1.1 billion to help eliminate the harm caused as a result of storm overflows, while an additional £400 million will be spent on water resilience schemes and £160 million on reducing nutrient pollution.
The aim is to drive improvements at 14 wastewater treatment works to reduce phosphorus pollution significantly in protected site water catchments.
Although phosphorus is an essential nutrient for both plants and animals, having too much of it in surface water can lead to algal blooms. This then has all sorts of knock-on effects for water quality, including low dissolved oxygen concentrations, which can lead to fish kills and decimate aquatic life.
Water minister Rebecca Pow said: “These new schemes will help accelerate the delivery of the urgent improvements we need to protect our environment.
“It includes £1.1 billion of new investment to stop sewage discharges at sites across the country and will deliver a reduction of 10,000 discharges per year in places like Lake Windermere, the River Wharfe, Falmouth and Sidmouth. The investment set out here will also provide an important boost for regional jobs, businesses and local communities.”
David Black, chief executive of Ofwat, made further comments, saying that substantial investment will be necessary in order to tackle the challenges posed by storm overflows to the water system, as well as water quality and resilience to drought.
He went on to note that being able to work alongside water companies and identify the investments that can be started before the next price control period will deliver very real and substantial benefits for both customers and the environment, bringing these benefits into being faster as a result.
In addition, companies will be held to account if they fall short of making rapid progress where improvement delivery is concerned.
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