Environment Agency Urges Water Firms to Prepare for Droughts
Jun 10 2023
The Environment Agency (EA) has urged UK water companies to initiate drought plans promptly, cautioning that weather patterns alone can't guarantee reliable water supplies. This call to action follows the driest February the UK has experienced in three decades and the wettest March in four decades, underscoring the country's climate volatility.
Despite above-average rainfall in April, regions like East Anglia, Devon, and Cornwall continue to battle drought conditions. Given these circumstances, the National Drought Group (NDG), comprising the EA, Met Office, government bodies, water companies, and farming and environmental entities, has called for collaborative efforts to secure adequate water for people, agriculture, wildlife, and the environment this summer.
John Curtin, EA's Chief Executive and NDG Chair, emphasized that the unpredictable climate necessitates enhanced readiness for future droughts. "Increasingly extreme climate shocks can change everything in an instant," Curtin noted, advocating for comprehensive planning that leverages scientific insights and best practices.
The NDG stressed that the environment would require time to recover from the previous year's drought. Consequently, the EA continues monitoring the recuperation of aquatic life, including fish and invertebrates.
As of May 16, England's reservoir capacity was 92%, a significant improvement from the 49% low recorded in September. The NDG also reported normal or higher-than-average river flows for this time of the year. Nonetheless, the country continues to experience extreme weather due to global warming, disrupting traditional climate patterns, and leading to simultaneous drought and flood occurrences in some regions.
Water Minister Rebecca Pow called for collective action to alleviate pressure on the country's water supply and enhance drought resilience. "Water companies must better deliver for customers, step up their water resource planning efforts, and take precautionary steps to ensure water resilience," Pow said, highlighting the government's commitment to cooperating with the EA and industry stakeholders to expedite the construction of essential water supply infrastructure like reservoirs.
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