Water Industry News

How Can Businesses Prepare For Drought?

In 2022, the UK saw its driest summer for almost 30 years and it seems that we may well see similar conditions strike the length and breadth of the country this year as well, with experts now issuing a warning that we could see drought conditions once again in 2023, despite the majority of water levels being replenished by rainfall over the winter months.


At the start of February, the UK’s total reservoir capacity was at 88 per cent, compared to the 49 per cent seen at the end of September 2022, which is why reservoirs were at their lowest after the summer.


February did see a dry start to the month, however, with low rainfall registered across England since the end of January, which has left 63 per cent of rivers below normal levels for the time of year… and some storage reservoirs are still lower than anticipated, as well, while Norfolk’s groundwater levels are only just starting to increase slowly.


The National Drought Group has now entered into discussions regarding how risks to water resources continue to persist, despite above average rainfall being seen for five consecutive months. The good news is that only East Anglia, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are still classified as having drought status, with the majority of regions now recovering.


The group (which consists of the Met Office, the government, the Environment Agency, water firms and environmental and farming organisations) observed that despite winter readiness action having been taken, further steady rainfall is still necessary in order to ensure that water reservoirs are in a good place ahead of the summer.


Work is being undertaken to help improve resilience, with water firms identifying new water sources, reducing leakage rates and ensuring that sources are operating as they should be. Additional drought permits have also been determined by the Environment Agency to help refill reservoirs and improve water supplies.


Farmers are also taking action to improve drought resilience, ensuring that water is available for the short and long term, shoring up overall food security. And all other sectors are now looking into precautionary planning should hot and dry weather make a comeback over the summer months, working closely together to support water supplies around the country.


John Leyland, executive director of the Environment Agency and chair of the National Drought Group, said: “While most water levels have returned to normal across much of the country, low rainfall in recent weeks highlights the importance of remaining vigilant.


“We cannot rely on the weather alone, which is why the Environment Agency, water companies and our partners are taking action to ensure water resources are in the best possible position both for the summer and for future droughts.


“As ever, it is important that we all continue to use water carefully to protect not just our water resources; but our precious environment and the wildlife that depends on it.”


Business preparation for drought


Reducing water usage and consumption before drought conditions hit can help businesses be more resilient and ensure they can continue operating as normal, even if water shortages do become a reality in the near future.


Hosepipe bans were enforced last year and it’s highly possible that they’ll be implemented once again if similar conditions are seen come the summer, which means that various activities will be restricted for both domestic and commercial customers.


The next step up from this is the introduction of non-essential use bans, where businesses that use water for their operations have restrictions put in place.


These restrictions include operating mechanical vehicle washers, cleaning the windows of commercial buildings, watering outdoor plants on the premises, filling or maintaining ponds/swimming or paddling pools, operating cisters, suppressing dust and cleaning industrial plants.


As such, looking ahead and seeing what can be done now to help ensure business can continue as normal no matter what happens could prove particularly beneficial for companies of all shapes and sizes, across all sectors and industries.


A good first step to take if you are keen to reduce your water footprint and become more efficient with water usage and consumption is to have a water audit carried out.


This involves comparing your water use, including volumes, against what you’re being charged for so that you can identify any inconsistencies that may have led to you being billed incorrectly.


By comparing billing and usage data, you will then be able to see where you are able to reduce water usage, cut costs and even potentially secure a refund for historic overcharging… so it’s a real win-win for all!


Cutting your water use means you’ll ultimately be less reliant on water as a business, so you’ll be able to continue keeping the customers more than satisfied, no matter what happens externally.


You could even take it one step further and look at your entire supply chain, rather than just your immediate business operations to see what other efficiencies could be achieved.


Looking more locally for goods and services can make you less susceptible to water-related shocks in other parts of the world, helping to keep your business going while being more sustainable in your overall approach to work.


Industries that are most likely to be severely affected if we do see drought conditions return later in the year include agriculture, automotive, chemicals, construction, car and commercial washes and food and drink production.


If you’d like to find out more about how you could best go about building resilience into your business operations, get in touch with the SwitchWaterSupplier.com team today to see how we can help.