Section 20 agreement

We've signed a legal agreement with the Environment Agency to protect the Test and Itchen catchment.

Our agreement – an overview

In 2018, we signed a legal agreement with the Environment Agency (EA).

We agreed to accept the EA’s proposed abstraction licence changes in the Test and Itchen catchment with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, the EA agreed to introduce governance allowing us to more quickly apply for drought permits and drought orders should a drought or incident arise before we have implemented the new solutions proposed under Water for Life – Hampshire.

Drought permits and orders allow water companies to maintain public supplies by taking water beyond their abstraction licence limits.

The legal agreement (under Section 20 of the Water Industry Act) commits us to pursue the preferred permanent water resources solution/s with “all best endeavours”.

You can view the agreement on the Technical documents page.


Section 20 environmental measures

As part of the Section 20 Agreement, we’ve committed to a range of environmental projects totalling almost £9.5m.

These projects are designed to mitigate the impact of a drought permit or order on wildlife by improving ecological conditions on neighbouring watercourses.

The work is being carried out regardless of whether a drought permit or order is implemented and will permanently increasing the resilience of these habitats.

The projects are being funded by Southern Water and delivered by key partners at the Wildlife Trust, Rivers Trust and Environment Agency.

They include:

  • Monitoring to develop the ecological assessment of the impacts of abstracting below authorised flows under a drought order/permit on the Test, Itchen and Candover.
  • Mitigation for targeted environmental improvement measures on the Test, Itchen and Candover to restore natural function to the ecosystem and improve resilience to drought.
  • Compensation to ensure compliance with the Habitats Directive.
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