Water companies and the government last week insisted that this year’s dry spring would not cause water use restrictions, even though April’s rainfall was only 24% of the long term average.
Emergency drought summit
“A minority” of water companies might have to consider imposing hosepipe bans if rainfall stays low in the coming months, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
It made the statement after a emergency drought summit with water companies and water industry bodies.
Anglian Water managing director Peter Simpson this week wrote to local MPs to reassure them about the security of his company’s water supplies.
Simpson’s letter stated that Anglian Water would not restrict supplies or impose hosepipe bans this year.
South West Water showed similar confidence. “We are in a strong position and expect this to be our fifteenth consecutive summer without water restrictions,” it said in a statement.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman held a drought summit on 16 May with the Environment Agency, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and industry bodies Water UK and the UK Irrigation Association.
“We are in a strong position and expect this to be our fifteenth consecutive summer without water restrictions”
South West Water
“We’re not in a drought yet, although the severity of dry conditions differs from place to place,” said Spelman.
“Water companies are… confident of maintaining supplies, partly because the industry has improved its resilience. But this shouldn’t make us complacent.”
Water UK said that this year’s dry spring could affect supply in the long-term, if it is followed by a dry winter.
“If the coming winter is very dry, the situation may change significantly for some companies next year,” it said. Defra has asked the Environment Agency to provide regular drought management briefings.
Rainfall levels improved in May. Northern England and parts of Wales received 53% to 68% of average rainfall for that month, with the rest of the UK receiving 30% to 45% of the average. But most of southern and central England is forecast to experience more sunny and dry weather.
Intense dry spell this year
Water UK said water companies are monitoring supply and demand, river flows and groundwater. “Water companies carry out detailed water resource planning under a ‘dry year’ scenario to ensure that levels of service can be met under drought conditions,” said Water UK.
The intense dry spell over the past two months was the driest ever over a two month period in some parts of the country, said Defra. The UK has received 61% of normal rainfall over the last three months, with parts of central, southern and eastern England receiving less than 10mm of rain in April.