This one-day conference for key stakeholders took place on 14 March 2013 at the Fielder Centre in Hatfield. Hosted by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), it explored the availability of water resources in Hertfordshire and future long term water security.
Hertfordshire has one of the highest water usage rates in the country. Water supply issues have been made worse by recent dry winters which have failed to provide adequate recharge for the county’s chalk aquifer (the main source of water for the majority of users within Hertfordshire).
These pressures can cause a range of problems such as the hosepipe ban for Affinity customers last year, which affected both businesses and households.
We also risk water becoming a constraint on growth as it is likely that the current supply cannot sustain greater demand.
Water resource pressures also have significant environmental impacts. Hertfordshire is home to internationally-rare chalk streams and associated habitats. High levels of abstraction have led to many of these water bodies experiencing low flows or running completely dry.
This conference provided a platform for all key sectors within Hertfordshire to learn more about the shortage of water resources facing the county. No single organisation or agency can deliver the necessary solutions and mechanisms to tackle the shortage of water in Hertfordshire. It requires public, private and third sector organisations to work together to address the issues related to our high levels of water consumption.
The event informed delegates of the key issues related to water resource management in Hertfordshire and secured sign-up to actions to tackle the county’s water resource pressures.
The Water Summit covered three main themes:
1. Water resource planning – 2015 will see the next national Water Resource Planning Round at which investment in water resources and pricing structures will be agreed between the water companies and Ofwat. HCC wants to encourage all interested stakeholders to contribute to consultations on this. Additionally, the Summit covered the role of planning authorities and other stakeholders in balancing supply and demand as part of the development process.
2. Water demand management – many organisations in the county have tried to encourage behaviour change related to water consumption. Despite this, water usage levels remain persistently high. The Summit explored new approaches to tackling this.
3. The environmental value of water – including the impact of high abstraction levels on our internationally rare chalk streams. The Summit included discussions of how we raise awareness of these issues amongst key decision makers in the county.
At the bottom of the page is a summary of the actions that HCC is taking now as part of our work on water resource management, titled 'Summary of Existing Water Resources Projects.'
As part of our ongoing work towards a wider response, we will be publishing an action plan in due course. We will be consulting with our partners on what actions we can take as well as considering the wider implications the response will have.
Attendance at the Water Summit was by invitation only. All leaders of key stakeholder organisations in Hertfordshire were invited.