Dry winter has led to drought warnings says expert

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Infrastructure advisers have told the Government that compulsory water monitoring, along with a national hosepipe ban, should be implemented as a national priority by the end of the decade. The National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) first warned the Government four years ago that considerable new investment would be required in the nation’s water supply equipment by the 2030s. Despite some limited improvements being made, nearly 3 billion litres of water is still lost every day.

Mark Lloyd of the Rivers Trust said preventative measures should be taken much soon than the end of the decade.

He said: “There needs to be a nationally coordinated publicity campaign to reduce water use and universal water metering.

“Low flows in rivers are disastrous for wildlife and, ultimately, we need to take much more care of this incredibly precious resource.”

Mark Owen of the Angling Trust called for the extension of hosepipe bans across the country after Southern Water became the first water company to implement a ban.

He told the Guardian: “We need to see these bans brought in proactively in many more places.”

Southern Water implemented restrictions in the Isle of Wight and Hampshire.

Mr Owen also criticised the government’s approach, describing it as a “kneejerk” reaction.

He said: “There is no strategic, coherent, joined-up approach.

“The reaction is always kneejerk.

“What happens when we get to this stage – when it is very dry and hot –is that all of a sudden usage shoots up as people fill paddling pools and water their gardens.”

This comes as the country gears up for a drought in August.

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Hosepipe bans for households could be brought in across the UK if the government implements a drought plan.

It follows months of below-average rainfall for much of the country, and unprecedented temperatures in July – reaching above 40C on Tuesday – putting heightened pressure on water supplies.

Maps from The Environment Agency (EA) show that river levels across the UK are either below normal, notably low or exceptionally low across the country, with only two locations ranked as “normal”.

Most of England has been moved into “prolonged dry weather” status – meaning the EA is now taking precautionary actions to mitigate impacts.

Speaking about the current dry weather, Martin Baxter of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, said: “What we are seeing now is that climate impacts in terms of more extreme weather events are happening more frequently and at a greater magnitude than was anticipated.

“We have really got to become more resilient to what we know is on the way.”

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