Most of the East Midlands, East Anglia and the South East of England is currently experiencing a drought following exceptionally low rainfall over the past 18 months. Some other areas of the country are assessed to be at high risk. Groundwater supplies have not replenished over the winter due to the dry ground and low rainfall and many rivers are running exceptionally low for the time of year.
Last year was the driest for over 90 years. In the last 3 months we have only had 50/60% of average rainfall. Importantly for the Midlands, we have also had two successive dry winters. This means that groundwater levels are especially low.
The water companies in the Midlands (Severn Trent Water and South Staffordshire Water) are not currently predicting any significant interruptions to public water supplies. But, as river flows are already much lower than normal, especially those rivers that depend on groundwater levels, we can already anticipate an ‘environmental’ drought, with impacts on wildlife and also on sectors, like agriculture, that already rely on natural resources.
It is important that we all play our part in reducing our water use in order to protect the supplies available now and in the future. We therefore encourage everyone to ensure that they not only use water prudently but also to support wider public understanding of this issue.
There are a number of sources of advice on water efficiency. For example, Waterwise and water companies offer advice to domestic customers about sensible water use in the home and garden. WRAP, Waterwise, Business Link and the Environment Agency advise business and industry on how to reduce water use and avoid wasteful practices. In addition, the Environment Agency provides advice and information to abstractors.
The Environment Agency has also produced an interactive map to show areas which are in drought.