In the north east, there has been a gradual fall in overall water demand in recent decades as a consequence of a reduction in industrial demand for water.
This trend is expected to continue but the pace of decline has now stabilised after some industrial closures during the economic recession. The north east compares well to the rest of the country as far as water resources are concerned and our major regional rivers can all be supported by Kielder Water. This provides very high security of supply for our customers. We also provide the highest levels of compliance for waste water across this area ensuring that we can return the water and sewage sludge to the environment satisfactorily whilst meeting the demands of all customers. Bran Sands is particularly important in this respect as it supports the heavily industrialised area within Teesside by treating its waste. The advanced anaerobic digestion plant there is now operating effectively and helping us to build our use of renewable energy.
Our southern operating area is in a water scarce region that is forecast to experience further economic and population growth in the medium term. While this area has also seen a reduction in demand from heavy industry, and the recession is likely to dampen housing growth in the near future, we have a current deficit, meaning supplies are not secure in a severe drought. Future growth will intensify the pressure on the balance between supply and demand. We are implementing long term plans to ensure the availability of water supplies to meet both current and future demand in the region. After approval from the EA, the project to increase the capacity of Abberton reservoir, near Colchester, coupled with ongoing demand management measures, will secure supplies to the Essex area for the foreseeable future.