End of the drought for the UK

March 16, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Mid Kent Water lifted its hosepipe ban on the 28th February meaning that there are no longer any active water restrictions in the UK. Last year saw the UK experience the worst drought in 100 years resulting in hosepipe bans and drought orders nationwide, but with rainfall at above average in many areas it looks like the UK drought has finally come to an end.

The Environment Agency classed February as a wet month with the Thames Valley receiving twice the average amount of rainfall and south-east England showing 80% above average. Rivers and groundwater levels are back to normal everywhere except for Oxfordshire and north-west Kent where they are recuperating fast. Reservoirs are either full or nearly full, with the London supplies stabilising at 94%. This is all due to the fact that we have now had a wetter than average winter, following on from two dry ones in the years previous.

It seems that savvy homeowners are keen to take advantage of the freak rainfall, as home improvements retailer B&Q report record sales of water butts. Apparently sales are three times what they were at the same time last year, showing an admirable increase in consumer water usage awareness.

Preparing for the future by taking advantage of the present seems to be a wise maxim to follow, as several separate official entities have issued conflicting statements about this years water prospects in the last few weeks. While Industry body Water UK cast doubt on the need for any water restriction in 2007, quoting the current high levels of underground aquifiers and reservoirs as reason, the GMB union, pressing for re-nationalisation of the water services said that summer drought was inevitable unless the Government took decisive action. Meanwhile the official line from the Environment Agency was tentative, suggesting that water restrictions should not be necessary as long as healthy rainfall continues towards summer. They pointed out however, that should the rest of winter dry up and the start of spring follow suit, then water restrictions may have to be re-introduced, so we all need to be aware of our wastage. Finally the Met office are playing their cards to close to their chest and will not be issuing a summer forecast until April.

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