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This website has been created using the best information available to GARD at the time of its compilation. The opinions expressed are based on GARD’s perception of the issues involved and the stance taken by Thames Water.




BACKGROUND: Following the public inquiry held in 2010 into Thames Water’s 2009 Water Reosurces Management Plan, the inspector found that the TW’s proposals for a huge reservoir south-west of Abingdon were:

  • not fit for purpose;
  • not compliant (they had over estimated demand); and that
  • some important alternatives to the proposed Abingdon reservoir (Upper Thames Reservoir UTR) south west of Abingdon had not been properly investigated, particularly the options involving water transfers from R Severn to R Thames to supply London’s reservoirs.

As a result the inspector ruled out TW’s proposed 100 million cubic meter reservoir. Consequently, TW’s plan was subsequently amended as a result of these findings. Even in their 2014 Plan they did not return to a concrete proposal.


On 12th February 2018, Thames Water published their new draft Water Resources Managment Plan (dWRMP19). The public consultation ended on 29th April 2018.

Following public and regulator criticism, Thames Water were forced to propose more ambitious
Leakage targets (50% reduction in Leakage by 2045), and abandon their exaggerated population projections for 2100 – they now predict a poulation for the south-east of only 13.9million by 2100 (a reduction of over 1.5 million on their previous figure). As their plan had to be revised in major ways, they have now issued the revised dWRMP19 for public consultation (3rd October). The consultation ends on 28th November.

The plan covers detailed investment up to 2024, but then presents an outline Preferred Plan out to 2100 (new government guidelines support more long-term planning by Water Companies). In progressing to this, TW produced a 'Fine Screening Report' to propose a set of water supply options which would be investigated in detail to produce the final list of water sources. An executive summary of this Fine Screening Report (FSR) can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking this link. The FSR was put out to public consultation, which ended on 31st October 2016. GARD's detailed response can be downloaded as a PDF file here by clicking this link.

TW's current draft plan predicts, by the end of the century, a London deficit of about 580 Million litres per day, which could only be met by several large schemes. They present many plan versions, but their Preferred Plan (ie. the one for which they would seek approval) is, in outline:

Leakage reduction and Household Efficiency are their first scheme choices (these go under a heading of Demand Management) – these are to be tackled for 2020-2045.

Following this their first big new resource will be the 'Abingdon Reservoir ' (now rebranded as the 'South-east Strategic Reservoir Option' , starting construction in 2025, and ready for filling in 2035, with filling completed in 2037.

The start date of this new resource is jusitified (in our view wrongly) by the needs of Affinity Water company, which supplies Hertfordshire, Kent and Essex. Affinity Water has now announced that it will form a partnership with Thames Water to build the reservoir.

For subsequent London needs after 2080 (FINALLY!), Thames propose to implement a Water-transfer scheme from the Severn to the Thames, in partnership with other water companies.

It is notable in the plan that:
- the needs of Affinity are for only about 1/3 of the reservoir water;
- London needs little of the reservoir water before the 2060s;
- implementing the reservoir gives Thames a huge water surplus (200 Million litres per day) which it can try to sell to other water companies;
- the needs of Swindon and Oxford area (SWOX) could be met without the Abingdon reservoir.

The 'bottom line' in the plan is that Thames Water would sell over 100 Million litres per day (1/3 of the Abingdon Reservoir's output) to other areas of the South-East.

This is in spite of the explicit statements of other water companies (South-east Water, Southern Water) that they do not foresee any need to buy from Thames/Affinity. We thus see that the reservoir (and especially the mega-reservoir ruled out by the 2010 Public Inquiry) is motivated by speculation on the possibility of Thames Water becoming the 'water sheikhs' of the South-East region!

The reservoir is an immediate threat to the local area and environment, and an immediate threat as a white elephant for which all Thames Water's customers will pay for via their bills for decades to come, GARD believes it is extremely important to maintain opposition to the reservoir in this consultation and throughout the period up to Spring 2019. We have demonstrated that Thames Water's plans can be defeated by a combination of refuting their dubious technical arguments in favour of the reservoir, by pointing out the better alternatives, and by strong public pressure on decision makers and the media. We will maintain this, and ask you to help us in this fight.