The Environment Agency has today (Weds 28 March) confirmed that parts of Yorkshire are now officially in drought.
The drought conditions apply to catchments of the River Don, the River Rother, the River Hull, and the River Derwent.
The Environment Agency is concerned about the effect of the drought on the environment. Yorkshire Water does not currently anticipate any impact on the public water supply but is continually reviewing the situation.
The decision to declare drought was taken after several months of below-average rainfall combined with a forecast that the dry spell will continue over the next few months.
The lack of rain has led to low groundwater levels, particularly in the Hull catchment, and low river levels across all the affected catchments.In the Hull and the Don catchment, rainfall figures show it is the second driest 12 months on record since 1910, and an Environment Agency rain gauge near the River Rye in the Derwent catchment has had six consecutive months of below average rainfall.
Ben Hughes, the Environment Agency’s drought manager for Yorkshire, said: “The dry spell is forecast to continue over the next few months. We have been working with Yorkshire Water and it is not anticipated that there will be an impact on public water supplies at this stage. However, we expect to see lower river levels, and some small springs and streams drying up, which will affect people who use those waterways, as well as fish and other wildlife.
“Our job is to balance the needs of people, the environment, agriculture and industry so that there is enough water to go round. Everyone has a part to play in making sure that we use water efficiently and even small changes can make a big difference to the overall picture.”
This winter the Environment Agency in Yorkshire took the unusual step of restricting the amount of water which could be abstracted in some areas. If the drier conditions continue, more water abstraction licence holders may be affected to protect the environment.
Ben said: “We are appealing to all water abstractors, including farmers and businesses, to look for ways to share and make the best use of a limited water resource.”
The Environment Agency is also encouraging abstractors to work closely with its staff to help manage the situation effectively.
Yorkshire Water spokesman Matt Thompson said: “We continue to work hard to manage and balance our stocks of water, particularly in the east of the region where borehole levels are 20 per cent lower than would normally be expected for this time of year.“
To support what we’re doing, we’d encourage customers to continue to do all they can to conserve water and use only what they need. For advice and tips on how to save water, visit yorkshirewater.com/savewater.”
Today’s news comes on the day that the Government announced the launch of the “Love your River” campaign which is aimed at inspiring people to look after their rivers by using water wisely.
The amount of water that we use at home and in our businesses has a direct effect on the amount of water available in our rivers and for wildlife.