A framework to ensure best value for water customers, society and the environment

AG were delighted to partner with HR Wallingford, Adams Hendry, decisionLab and PJM Economics as the project team commissioned by UKWIR to produce its industry guidance on deriving a 'best value' water resource plan. The guidance and a practitioners guide has been published and is available free to view on the UKWIR website.

The guidance is applicable to all UK and Irish jurisdictions and is developed with the support of the UKWIR Steering Group (comprised of members from Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water, Southern Water, Irish Water, Bristol Water, Severn Trent Water, South East Water, Yorkshire Water, Scottish Water, Water Resources South East, United Utilities, Affinity Water, Wessex Water, Thames Water, South West Water, Anglian Water, Water Resources East, Northumbrian Water and South Staffs Water). 

It has regulatory input and approval from the Environment Agency, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru/Natural Resources Wales and Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID). Following public consultation, the Environment Agency has this week confirmed that the guidance will be referenced in their own Water Resources Management Plan Guidance.

The framework looks at combining the statutory function of water resource plans with water resource sustainability by including consideration of monetised and non-monetised factors for example (customer preferences, stakeholder views, regulatory expectation, resilience, environmental effects, environmental net gain, natural capital, wider societal benefits and long term factors).  

The project which took around six months produced a framework that defines a best value plan; gives guidance on incorporating adaptive planning and decision making tools; and aims to assist in consistently and transparently defining, measuring and incorporating different factors into water resource plans to meet the Water Resources Planning Guideline expectation of a best value plan that:

"considers factors alongside economic cost and seeks to increase the overall net benefit to customers, the environment and society".

The robustness of the guidance was tested and challenged through a mock inquiry process with the support and assistance of 39 Essex Chambers. 

AG along with the project team are now working with undertakers and regional groups on incorporating best value planning into current preparations for regional and undertaker water resource plans.