Charles Walker asks about water abstraction and river flows.

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to (a) reduce water abstraction and (b) increase river flows during the summer months; and if she will make a statement. [18551]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. The principal mechanism for achieving sustainable management and development of water resources is through the Agency's system of abstraction licensing.

Many abstraction licences will have a condition that means abstraction must cease if the river flow or depth falls below a specified value. In addition the Environment Agency can place a ban on abstractions by spray irrigators, if this becomes necessary.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, can make a drought order, on application by the Environment Agency or a water undertaker, which contains powers to reduce abstractions by third parties to ensure that supplies can be maintained.


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