Safeguarding water for future generations

Sep 27, 2006

A major new reservoir near Abingdon in Oxfordshire is being proposed to help cope with the projected increase in demand for water from London, Swindon and Oxfordshire in the future.

The reservoir, which is expected to cost around £1billion, covering an area of approximately 10 square kilometres (four square miles) and holding up to 150 million cubic metres of water, is one part of a package of measures proposed by Thames Water to help secure water supplies for its customers. Thames Water is also proposing water meters should be fitted to homes on change of occupancy.

These and other plans were unveiled at the first of a four-week series of public exhibitions around the Vale of White Horse in Oxfordshire, beginning in Abingdon.

The plans are the culmination of three years of studies, building on previous work by Thames Water, which have assessed the projected increase in demand for water and the most environmentally and economically sustainable methods of securing the supplies needed. The proposed site to the south-west of Abingdon has been identified as the most suitable for a reservoir, after an assessment of 54 other potential sites in the River Thames catchment area.

Thames Water's Environment Director, Richard Aylard, said: "Climate change, increasing population and changes in lifestyles are putting the region's water resources under pressure. The population of London is expected to increase by over 800,000 within the next decade but our summers are likely to get hotter and drier. Our current predictions show that by the year 2030 we will need an extra 280 million litres a day in London and 60 million litres a day in Swindon and Oxfordshire.

Our customers have already shown through their efforts to save water during the current drought, that considerable savings can be made if we use water more wisely. At the same time, we as a company, can and will do more to reduce the leakage from our pipes, by spending £0.5million a day on finding and fixing leaks and replacing our leakiest Victorian mains in London.

But these measures alone will not match demand, particularly in the driest months, and that is why we need a large reservoir as part of our plans to provide for our long-term needs.

Having decided on our preferred options, we now want to explain our analysis to the public. We will be asking for ideas on how the reservoir might look, and what recreational facilities might be available, such as sailing, fishing or how nature might be encouraged. Then as part of our Stage Two exhibitions early next year, we will be able to outline the initial designs for the reservoir."

As well as Abingdon, the exhibition will visit three other communities near the proposed reservoir site between now and November: Steventon, East Hanney and Wantage.

If the reservoir is given approval Thames Water expects it to be completed and supplying water to London, Swindon and Oxfordshire by 2019/20.

More information can be found on


Thames Water Utilities Ltd.



To website