Opportunities and challenges offered through the latest water company price review explored during River Irwell catchment workshop

Natural Course partners and other stakeholders met on Wednesday 19th July 2017 to discuss the opportunities for collaborative working, across the Irwell catchment, offered through the latest water company price review (PR19) in a workshop hosted by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

The economic regulator for water, OFWAT, requires all water companies to submit business plan proposals during 2019 that will be used to decide the level of resources available during the next investment period, 2020-2015, known as Asset Management Programme or AMP 7.

PR19 offers an opportunity for United Utilities, the North West’s water and wastewater company, to develop new approaches to delivering water management solutions. The workshop brought together partners from the public, private and third sectors to discuss a more integrated or collaborative approach in the Irwell catchment, and more widely across Greater Manchester, during the 2020-2025 investment period.

Participants heard presentations from Jo Harrison, Director of Asset Management at United Utilities, Katherine Causer of the Environment Agency, who outlined the regulatory drivers from an environmental perspective and David Johnson of The Rivers Trust National Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) support team, who provided examples of successful collaborative projects in other catchments.

Delegates then discussed the opportunities, through PR19, to do things differently during the next investment period, identified potential barriers to a more integrated approach and earmarked particular activities which could be developed as part of Natural Course.

The discussions identified improved water quantity management as an area that could be addressed to deliver a range of benefits including improved water quality, reduced flood risk and increased opportunities for biodiversity. The group plans to get together again during October to develop the opportunities further.