Action on preparing for drought must remain, National Drought Group experts warn

National Drought Group reiterates the importance of continuing to work together to prepare for all weather eventualities and future droughts.

As many parts of the world experience extreme heatwaves and severe drought, the Environment Agency will continue to prepare for all weather eventualities for the rest of summer and autumn, it confirmed this week.

At this week’s meeting of the National Drought Group – chaired by Environment Agency Executive Director John Leyland – senior decision-makers from the Environment Agency, government, water companies and key farming and environmental groups discussed how to best manage water resources and ensure preparedness if hot, dry weather returns to this country.

The group also discussed how we can no longer rely on past weather patterns and that the best time to conserve water is when it is raining.

National Drought Group members heard that:

  • Following the hottest June on record, July has started wet in many places. Rivers that were struggling with low flows have responded with most now back into normal ranges.
  • Despite recent wet weather, the Environment Agency continues to prepare for all weather eventualities for the rest of summer and autumn. This includes closely monitoring the environment and ensuring we understand the risks if dry weather returned.
  • In June, the Environment Agency attended 58 incidents, including rescuing fish and deploying aerators, which are used to oxygenate water. Fishery owners were prepared for such events, as a result of advice given by the Environment Agency.
  • The Environment Agency is working with South West Water to investigate and potentially open up new sources of water to help improve the drought situation.
  • The Environment Agency is encouraging farmers to review their water needs and apply for changes to abstraction licences if necessary.

Environment Agency Executive Director and NDG Chair John Leyland said:

“Our climate is changing – this year we’ve seen more record-breaking temperatures in the UK, historically wet months followed by historically dry months, and an extreme heatwave sweeping through southern Europe. Yesterday is no longer a reliable predictor of tomorrow – together we must adapt to ensure we, and our water supplies, are resilient into the future. Preparation starts when it is raining; we must all use the wet weather to conserve water.

“The Environment Agency will continue to work collaboratively across the water sector to manage drought risk, including ensuring water companies implement their drought plans, managing abstraction licenses and helping farmers to manage resources.

“As ever, it is important that we all continue to use water carefully to protect not just our water resources, but our environment and wildlife for now and future generations.”

Water Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“With demand for water growing and challenges from climate change, this government is acting now to ensure England’s water system is resilient and prepared for future droughts.

“Through our Plan for Water, we are funding more on-farm reservoirs and better irrigation equipment for farmers, have secured significant investment to increase our water resilience, and are ensuring key water supply infrastructure, such as reservoirs, can be built more quickly.

“Whilst we all have an important role to play in preserving water resources, water companies must also step up their efforts, including by reducing leakage and encouraging water efficiency.”



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