Britain Drought Group: Rethink use of water

Everyone who uses water must rethink and make sure they use it wisely, the chairman of the body that has declared droughts around England says.

“We have got to rethink… and that means everyone, not just regulators and government,” said Harvey Bradshaw, chairman of the National Drought Group.

He is also executive director of the Environment Agency, which has warned the drought could last into next year.

A Met Office warning of extreme heat is continuing into Sunday.

The amber alert covers southern and central England and parts of Wales.

Rain is forecast for Monday but the agency says weeks of showers are needed to replenish water sources.

An official drought was declared in eight areas of England on Friday by the National Drought Group, which comprises representatives from the government, water companies, the Environment Agency and others.

John Curtin, executive director of local operations for the Environment Agency, told the BBC “this is not a normal summer” and warned lack of water would be an issue for several months.

“We’ll need probably average or slightly above average rainfall this autumn into this winter for us to not be in a drought next year,” he said.

His colleague Bradshaw told BBC Radio 4: “We have enough water for public supply but as you run into ever drier conditions you take more serious actions to conserve the water you have and we are on that process now.

“We have got an exceptional set of circumstances which has led to this drought and we’ve all got a responsibility to play out now, including and principally the water companies.

“We expect water companies to bear down on leaks, we expect water companies to put in more pipes to connect their network.”

He said that firms needed to move “faster and harder”, adding that the Environment Agency, the regulator Ofwat, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate had formed an alliance encouraging them to come forward with plans for necessary infrastructure improvements.

“We’ve also produced a national framework that says ‘this is the water we will need in 50 years’ time and this is where it might come from’,” he said.

“I’ve just been looking over the last 12 months and nearly every month we’ve had below average rainfall – low levels or exceptionally low levels.

“There is real stress in the environment and people are suffering.”

He said that the group is also helping farmers, including putting those who are not using all of their water supply in touch with farmers who need it.

“But the bottom line is there isn’t much water around,” he added. (BBC)

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