Extract from Hon Chairman's report to GARD AGM on 25th April

"I have been in the Chair for 10 years and,as a result of the efforts of GARD supported by funds donated through CPRE we still have no reservoir. However, as we constantly stress, the THREAT HAS NOT GONE AWAY. It may well take some years before we have a resolution of the uncertainty.

In the meantime, Thames Water(TW) have just 2 years before they are required to publish their next Draft Water Resources Management Plan (DWRMP). Although we are in the third year of the 5-year cycle, TW still have a huge amount of work to do to resolve outstanding issues and to complete essential studies on the Severn/Thames water transfer.

The main options continue to be

  • Much increased water re-use,
  • A reservoir, and -
  • Water transfer from the R Severn to R Thames supported by water from Vyrnwy reservoir (United Utilities or Severn Trent Water.

Water re-use

TW has spent considerable £sums increasing the output and quality of recycled water from their Deephams and Beckton sewage treatment works. We understand this has resulted in substantial additions to the London supply. Although there is still more scope from their Mogden treatment works output, which currently all goes to waste into the Thames Estuary, it seems unlikely TW will rely entirely on reuse as the sole long term supply solution. A second desalination plant would double their current Beckton desalination plant output (140 ml per day).


TW’s previous work prior to, and leading up to, the 2010 Public Inquiry, which relied almost entirely on the Abingdon Upper Thames Reservoir (UTR), does not yet appear to have been updated. The Abingdon site was, and apparently still remains, TW’s favoured option. However, TW have yet to justify the need for a 150 million cubic sized reservoir, the only site for which would be Abingdon. For the first time, TW have revealed some details of a possible Longworth site for a 50 Mn3 reservoir. It would be a more natural site which would not rely entirely on bunded walls all round it. There is a third possible site at Chinnor but we have no further information about it. What is clear is the crucial prediction by our widely respected, expert consultant (John Lawson) that, in the event of a THREE year drought, the already over-abstracted R Thames would be unable to refill the Abingdon UTR, which by year 3 would be empty!

Water transfer fro R. Severn to R. Thames

The Severn/Thames transfer, however, would supply new water which would be used to keep London reservoirs (202 Mn3) topped up. Topping up would have to be intermittent unless United Utilities or Severn Trent Water companies were able to supplement the R Severn flow, thereby guaranteeing constant flows to London reservoirs without any need for additional reservoir capacity. Surprisingly, considering over 5 years have passed since the 2010 Public Inquiry criticised TW for their failure to research this option, water quality and ecological implications have still not been fully resolved by TW.

GARD therefore STILL HAS A MAJOR BATTLE AHEAD. Our expert consultant, John Lawson, created his own modelling and has requested TW to validate it, thus enabling him to verify TW’s conclusions. In the meantime, we have urged TW to speed up their investigation work covering water transfers.

London’s future demand for water is not at present being challenged by GARD. Our present objective is to argue about the best way to meet it in the long term. Our other expert consultant, Chris Binnie, is assisting us on issues relating to reuse.

We have recently submitted a paper to the National Infrastructure Commission and requested to be called forward to give evidence on the above matters.

More locally, it is worth recording that the recent survey for the Steventon Neighbourhood Plan registered near unanimous support for the Parish Council to continue opposing the Abingdon UTR."

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