Water abstraction reform - essential water need

30 July 2020

The case for prioritising water for food production as an 'essential water need'

'Essential water need' is a concept that Government has introduced, as part of its abstraction reform proposals, to describe situations where legal provisions that restrict access to water during low flows can be over-ridden.


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Government implies that any exemption or derogation to meet 'essential water need' would only apply when restricting access to water would have public health and/or social impacts, such as limiting household water supplies and disrupting electricity supplies.

The Water for Food Group, an alliance of organisations in the agri-food sector of which FDF is a member, has produced a position paper making the case that any approach to reforming the abstraction licensing system must recognise that water is also essential for food and drink production and therefore the clear link between water security and the Government's broader priorities around economic growth and food security.