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Water Act 2003 (Chapter 37).

Type of law
Date of original text

This Act makes provision with respect to the management and conservation of water resources in England and Wales. It aims at the sustainable use of water resources, the protection of water consumer interests and the strengthening of competition in the field of water services and the promotion of water conservation.
The Act amends the Water Resources Act 1991 to improve long-term water resource management by: creating two new forms of abstraction licence; regulating anew abstraction and irrigation rights; empowering the Environment Agency to revoke or vary an abstraction licence without compensation if it has not been used for four years; and removing the entitlement to compensation if the Secretary of State directs that a licence without a time limit should be curtailed on the grounds of serious environmental damage. It also amends the Water Industry Act 1991 so as to require water companies to prepare and publicise drought plans, to agree on and publicise water resource management plans and to further water conservation. The Act further makes provision for the better operation and regulation of the water industry, concerns flood-defence, includes provisions which aim to increase the opportunities for competition in the supply of water services and in general provides for the improvement of competition in the water industry, sustainable use of water resources and water conservation.
Long title of text
An Act to amend the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Water Industry Act 1991; to make provision with respect to compensation under section 61 of the Water Resources Act 1991; to provide for the establishment and functions of the Water Services Regulation Authority and the Consumer Council for Water, and for the abolition of the office of Director General of Water Services; to make provision in connection with land drainage and flood defence; to amend the Reservoirs Act 1975; to make provision about contaminated land so far as it relates to the pollution of controlled waters; to confer on the Coal Authority functions in relation to the discharge of water from coal mines; to extend the functions of the Environment Agency in relation to the Rivers Esk, Sark and Tweed and their tributaries so far as they are in England; to repeal section 1 of the Metropolis Water Act 1852; and for connected purposes.
Date of consolidation/reprint
This Act amends other legislation, specified in the Schedule to the Act.Last textual amendment was made by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Fines on Summary Conviction) Regulations 2015.tatus: This version of this Act contains provisions that are prospective. The Water Act 2003 is up to date with all changes known to be in force on or before 07 December 2020. There are changes that may be brought into force at a future date. (See end of Document for details) View outstanding changes.
Source language


Legislation Amendment
Amended by