When the water runs dry

Every year we have drought warnings in the UK, but what does it really mean when the taps are still flowing?

When the water runs dry

How much water do we have in the UK?

As February demonstrated there are times when we seem to have nothing but rain in the UK, and the concept of a drought seems laughable.

But there are regional variations that mean while it appears that water resources are rich, we are in fact much less well off than we think and on average we are using around 145 litres of water per person every day.

There are three types of drought:

Meteorological Drought – prolonged periods of no rain or not enough rain.

Hydrological Drought – reduced ground water and aquifer levels. The last major one in the UK was in 2003/2006.

Agricultural Drought – lack of soil water for crops and grass to feed live stock. Climate change also has a part to play with water evaporation increasing during prolonged warm periods.

The Environment Agency has predicted that by 2045 the demand for water in the UK will outstrip supply.

Should we prepare for drought every summer?

Each year will have unique conditions that lead to a drought, or not. In 2020 a dry spring suggests that it could be a drought summer, for example farmers are being advised to plan how to feed cattle if there isn’t enough grass as currently agricultural grass growth is 40% below the average for this time of year.

With below average rainfall, reservoirs at a lower capacity than they should be and river flows a little below normal the signs indicate that we all need to be a bit more water-wise.

How can I reduce my water use?

There are several easy ways to reduce how much water you use:

* Take a quick shower instead of a bath. Use a timer to ensure you don’t linger longer than you need to get clean.

* Use the eco-setting on your washing machine and dishwasher to minimise the water used for a cleaning cycle.

* Don’t let a tap run, fill a bowl to do dishes or have a wash.

* You don’t need to run a tap to clean your teeth – see our blog on this .

* Avoid a hose and water the garden with a watering can.