The government has been “working closely” with water companies to prepare for all scenarios of the UK’s exit from the European Union, including a “no deal” Brexit.
Utility Week understands the water industry is assessing alternative port and customs logistics for vital chemicals should the UK leave the EU on 29 March with no deal in place.
Water UK said that like other industries it has been assessing the “potential impact of Brexit” and is taking the “necessary actions” to minimise disruptions to customers and the water supply.
A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told Utility Week: “Delivering a negotiated deal with the EU remains the government’s top priority, but it is the job of a responsible government to ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, including no deal.
“We have been working closely with water companies, chemical suppliers, regulators and the devolved administrations on contingency planning, and companies are well advanced in their preparations to make sure they can meet their statutory responsibility to maintain services. We are confident that no-deal will not have an impact on water supply.”
The water industry is reliant to a large extent on chemicals imported from the EU and the “overwhelming majority” come through ports such as Immingham.
Defra said there is “no suggestion” that the flow at these ports should be “adversely affected” by leaving without a deal.
It stressed water will continue to be safe and of the same quality customers expect when the UK leaves the EU.
A spokesperson from Ofwat, said: “We’ve been pushing water companies to step up their resilience planning for years now, including putting in place the right resources and arrangements to ensure they can deliver for customers, whatever circumstances they may face.
“Companies are working together closely and planning internally at the most senior levels to ensure they can meet their obligations to their customers.
“Ofwat is working closely with Defra – the lead government body for ‘no deal’ contingency planning for the water sector – the water companies and others concerned on the arrangements being put in place.”
In a recent column for Utility Week, Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water said the company supports the government’s proposed EU deal as the “most pragmatic way forward.”
But he confirmed the water company was working on contingency plans in the event of a no deal scenario.
In November last year, environment secretary Michael Gove dismissed reports that the UK will run out of drinking water if there is no Brexit deal because insufficient quantities of chemicals have been stockpiled to treat it.