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The arrangement for business and other abstractors is different from household water supplies. Some businesses may still receive their water from the water company, but businesses can also choose who they buy water from, just like choosing what electricity company to buy electricity or gas from. What are known as ‘water retailers’ therefore act as middlemen between the customer and the water company generating the supplies. In either case, the water company will still be taking future needs into consideration.

Large industries and power companies, and almost all the agriculture and horticulture sectors, abstract their own water directly from local rivers and/or groundwater aquifers. These users will need to think very carefully about their medium- and long-term plans for water supply, as water company Water Resource Management Plans do not take their needs into account. Individual abstractors are responsible for developing their own plans and securing new sources of water if they need to.

Close-up of road sweeper
Microbrewery water use
Close-up of a street sweeper

Case Study:
Water Shortages

Future water supply has already become so uncertain that planning applications for some types of new development are unable to be guaranteed a supply of water. Essex and Suffolk Water are operating a moratorium (a temporary need to stop) on some non-residential development which is limiting growth (BBC Suffolk News, August 2023). It could take years until alternative sources of water are put in place by the water company, or a different way of meeting water needs is found.