An update of the water company drought plan guideline

Closed 18 Oct 2019

Opened 9 Sep 2019

Results updated 8 Aug 2022

We consulted on our proposed changes to the water company drought plan guideline in 2019. Please see details about drought planning on GOV.UK for further information on the final guideline and supplementary guidance.

In our consultation response document, we briefly describe the  responses we received and the changes we will make to the guideline as a result.

We received 47 responses – over half asked for more protections for the environment, especially chalk streams.  The key areas we were asked to improve included:  customer communications;  application readiness for potential drought permit or orders; links between drought plans, Water Resources Management Plans and Regional Plans; environmental assessment and extreme drought options; the format of the guideline. 

We plan to update the GOV.UK web pages and issue the final water company drought plan guidance in March 2020. Water companies are expected to start using this guideline this year in reviewing and updating their drought plans.




Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


This is an update of the water company drought plan guideline that takes into account the latest research, practice and experience of dry weather.

The following documents are being consulted upon:

The following documents are being made available for reference only during the consultation and are not being consulted upon.  

Both the supplementary guidance and the reference documents will not appear on GOV.UK and water companies would normally have access to these documents by download from HUDDLE or by email from

Why your views matter

We formally review and update our guidance to water companies on preparing their drought plans every 5 years.

The water company drought plan guideline sets out what companies must and should include in their statutory drought management plans. These plans focus on the actions companies plan to take to maintain water supply and protect the environment from their operations during a drought.

The water company drought plan guideline has been updated to ensure that the technical information is up to date and that lessons learnt from recent research and experience of drought has been incorporated. The updated draft has been reviewed internally within the Environment Agency but we would like to consult with the organisations and individuals affected by the guideline.

Responding To The Consultation

Please click on the 'Respond online' link below to answer the consultation questions. 

However, if you prefer, you can submit your response by email or post by downloading the response form (below) and sending it to:

Water Company Planning Team
Environment Agency
Horizon House
Deanery Road

Or email: using the heading "Consultation response to water company drought plan update".

What happens next

We will use the responses of the consultation to assess the suitability of the changes proposed and to understand stakeholders views.

Where appropriate stakeholder views might be used to make further changes to the guideline before publication or provide us with information on how we can provide better regulation for water company drought management plans through the next planning cycle.

We will publish a Consultation Summary Report on with webpage within 12 weeks of the consultation closing.


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • All water abstractors
  • Environment Agency customers
  • IDBs
  • Local authorities
  • District and parish councils
  • Environmental bodies
  • Land owners
  • Farming associations
  • Drainage associations
  • RFCCs
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Water companies
  • Members of the public
  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Community groups
  • Flood action groups
  • Environment Agency colleagues
  • Engagement specialists/operational staff in Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and other risk management authorities


  • Water resources
  • Drought