Drought, Storage & Irrigation
The story so far The Drought Summit
The Drought Summit held on the 20th of February marked the official start of the drought. Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and west Norfolk were listed as being in drought with other areas coming close.
Yorkshire The 7 companies were: 16th April -
Midlands officially in drought
On the 28th March, parts of Yorkshire were declared as being in drought, following a prolonged dry period leaving river levels and underground water supplies depleted.
Areas from Chesterfield in the south of Yorkshire to Scarborough in the east fall into the drought zone, with areas around Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull and Driffield also affected. But while the Rivers Don, Rother, Hull and Derwent were low or very low for the time of year, public water supplies were unlikely to be affected.
5th April -
Hosepipe Bans come into effect
Some areas of Yorkshire have seen the driest 12 months since 1910, and with river levels continuing to fall, the Environment Agency is appealing to farmers and businesses that take water from rivers to look for ways to use water wisely, and share the resources that are available.
28th March - Parts of Yorkshire in drought
Having already seen fish kills this year caused by dry weather, the Environment Agency and is preparing for an increase in environmental incidents over the summer by stepping up river monitoring and increasing its supplies of water aeration and fish rescue equipment. They are also working to help farmers top up their storage reservoirs, to ensure there are better supplies for the summer months. It has introduced a fast track process for farmers to apply to take additional water when river flows are high, and continues to be as flexible as possible around existing regulations to help farmers, who suffer significant impacts in times of drought.
Important wildlife sites were also given help last week, as the Environment Agency announced new measures to help protect nationally important wildlife sites.
Water companies before applying for drought permits must demonstrate that
• Thames Water • Southern Water • South East Water • Anglian Water
• Sutton and East Surrey • Veolia Central • Veolia Southeast
and other companies threatened to follow if the dry weather continues.
The firms said the bans were necessary to preserve essential water supplies and protect the environment and at this stage there is no clear indication as to how long the bans will remain in place, but a later report suggested that it could well go beyond Christmas.
On the 16th April, the Environment Agency confirmed that the Midlands was officially in drought.
The decision to declare drought was taken after the driest year on record in 2011, a second winter of below-average rainfall and only just over 40% average rainfall in February and March.
The drought conditions apply to the River Sever, Trent and Wye catchments in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
The lack of rain has led to low groundwater levels and exceptionally low river levels across the Midlands. Although we are seeing more rain in April, it will take months of sustained rainfall to improve underground water and river levels.
The Agency has already had rescue fish www.fadsdirectory.com
they have stepped up their water efficiency publicity campaigns and have taken measures to increase leakage detection.
On the 5th April, 7 water companies introduced hosepipe bans as part of their water restriction programmes, affecting 20m people.
from the River Lathkill in Derbyshire when the river receded four months earlier than usual. Four Midlands rivers also recorded the lowest monthly average flows on record during March. These were the River Tern at Walcot (near Telford), Shropshire, River Leadon at Wedderburn Bridge, Gloucestershire, River Sow at Great Bridgeford, Staffordshire and the River Soar at Kegworth, Leicestershire.
In the South West rivers are also suffering and nationally important chalk streams, such as the Hampshire Avon and the Dorset Stour, which support rare trout and salmon species, are exceptionally low.
The South West region covers: • Cornwall • Devon • Dorset • Somerset • Bristol
• South Gloucestershire • Parts of Hampshire • Most of Wiltshire.
Wales is also feeling the effects of the drought with The Wye, Usk and the Ebbw now at or near their lowest levels on record for the time of year and rivers like the Taff and Monnow also very low. Whilst reservoirs in Wales are more than 90% full, the concern is that any further dry period could begin to affect wildlife and the wider environment.
Despite the fact that it has rained almost everyday since the hosepipe ban was imposed, in East Anglia, it is unlikely at this stage to have any impact on improving the underlying drought situation.
The current heavy rains are more likely to cause flash floodiing than top up reservoirs. The hard ground will cause greater volumes of run-off which is likely to cause flash flooding and water that does fall is more likely to be absorbed by plants than find its way into the reservoirs.
A steady wet winter is what is required to restore rivers and groundwaters, but the prospect of facing a third dry winter will really start to test the supplies.
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