‘New normal’: Businesses urged to prepare for risk of prolonged drought

National Drought Group agrees further steps to boost water security, as fears grow drought conditions could persist into next year.

By James Murray for BusinessGreen

Recent rainfall across the UK have done little to alleviate the drought conditions afflicting much of the country, with experts warning only a prolonged period of average or above average rainfall will prevent the drought extending into next year.

That was the conclusion yesterday of the latest meeting of the National Drought Group, which brings together representatives from government, regulators, the water industry, and the wider business community to co-ordinate the UK’s response to worsening water security concerns.

The group confirmed the West Midlands has now officially moved into drought conditions, joining much of the south of the country.

Ten out of 14 areas of the UK are now officially in drought conditions, with a further three areas – Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire; Wessex; and the North East – classified as experiencing ‘prolonged dry weather’. As such, the only area now at ‘normal water resource’ level is Cumbria and Lancashire.

The formal declaration of drought conditions has prompted several water companies across the south of England to announce hosepipe bans in recent weeks, with the latest such ban from Thames Water set to come into effect from today.

Members of the group yesterday agreed to build on these hosepipe bans with further short and long-term water saving measures, as they look to respond to the driest British summer for 50 years and the driest ever recorded in Southern England.

The group stressed that recent rainfall in some parts of the country has not been enough to replenish rivers, groundwater, or reservoirs to normal levels. “That will require a return to sustained average or above average rainfall over the coming months,” it said. “Until – and unless – that happens, many areas will remain in drought.”

Environment Agency chief executive, Sir James Bevan, who is also chair of the National Drought Group, warned all water users needed to take steps to “use water wisely”.

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