Southern Water Faces up to the 'Jaws of Death

4th December 2019


After four years of planning and analysis, today we publish our Water Resources Management Plan which sets out the enormous challenge the region faces to protect the environment and provide drinking water to our customers.

Updated every five years, we previously looked 25 years into the future to assess the risks. For the first time we are now looking forward 50 years so we can be prepared to meet the challenges of a very different world.

“Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan made a speech this spring where he spoke of the ‘jaws of death’ for water- - climate change and population growth,” says Nicholas Price, water resource planning manager at Southern Water, “our analysis shows this is no exaggeration – the jaws of death are closing and when the teeth meet, it is this part of the country that will feel the bite.”

“With the UN’s COP25 meeting on climate change taking place in Madrid this week, the UN general secretary is warning that the point of no return is approaching. Everything we do to our environment has to be considered in that light – local problems are part of a global problem,” he added.

Price says that there is no single solution to ensuring tap water keeps flowing. “Staying resilient is about behaviour change and looking after the resources we currently have as much as it is about us building new resources. We are committing to cutting leakage in half by 2050 and we are asking our customers to use water wisely. Every drop humans take out from the environment means less for nature,” he says.

An immediate challenge is faced in Hampshire where less water will be taken from the iconic chalk Test and Itchen river systems, especially when flows drop in summer or following a dry autumn and winter.

A ten year £800 million plan will see a raft of new measures including a reservoir to be built in collaboration with Portsmouth Water and in its supply area, pipelines across the region so we can move water about and a link to Bournemouth Water for a bulk supply. We are also looking at building desalination plants and recycling water in the future.

Solutions such as desalination and water recycling plants may also be necessary in many other parts of our region.

Says Price: “There is no magic bullet for securing new water supplies – every alternative has its own environmental impacts. The most important thing is working together – us, our customers and neighbouring water companies must collaborate to ensure the environment thrives and taps keep flowing.”


Notes to Editors

Just 1 per cent of the world’s water is available for drinking.

The south east has less water per head of population than the Yemen or Morocco.

Our Water Resources Management Plan can be found here

More information about your water and current water resources can be found here

Portsmouth Water’s plan and details of our collaboration on Havant Thicket can be found here:

Learn how to save water to save our environment: