Water Industry News

More Hot Weather On The Way!

The UK has enjoyed some much milder weather over the last few weeks than was experienced midway through July and the cooler temperatures have certainly been a very welcome respite from the 40 degrees C that was seen last month.


But it seems that the summer sun isn’t done with us quite yet, if reports from the Met Office are anything to go by, with temperatures now predicted to increase over the coming week or so.


Although it’s not expected that temperature records will be broken again, heatwave conditions could be seen in some parts of the country, driven by an area of high pressure coming in from the Atlantic into the south and south-west of England. The result? Temperatures are likely to reach low or mid-30s by the end of next week.


Steve Willington, Met Office chief forecaster, said: “We could see parts of the UK entering heatwave conditions if the above-average temperatures last for three days or more. Many areas of the UK, especially the south will witness temperatures several degrees higher than average, but these values are likely to be well below the record-breaking temperatures we saw in mid-July.


“As the high pressure builds there is very little meaningful rain in the forecast, especially in those areas in the south of England, which experienced very dry conditions last month.


“Elsewhere in the UK, such as in northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, rain-bearing weather fronts will make limited headway against the high pressure, bringing some rain to north-western parts of the UK.”


It’s currently too early to say how long this particular spell of hot weather will last, but there are signs that the weather could become more changeable from around the middle of August onwards, reducing the chances of prolonged high temperatures.


The worry now is, of course, that the UK could find itself dealing with drought conditions, putting even more pressure on freshwater resources around the country.


As such, water suppliers are now considering introducing hosepipe bans to shore up supplies and protect the natural environment. Earlier this week (August 3rd), for example, South West Water issued a statement saying that the region continues to experience unprecedented and prolonged hot and dry weather, coupled with high levels of demand.


Water-saving tips and advice is now being shared with customers to encourage everyone to consider water usage carefully, avoiding any non-essential use such as hosepipes for washing the car or gardening.


If the dry weather persists, it’s possible that formal restrictions may be introduced to limit pressure on resources and support the environment.


Elsewhere, South East Water has already implemented a temporary use ban, with the use of hosepipes and sprinklers restricted in Kent and Sussex from August 12th.


Official figures show that the region has just seen its driest July since 1935, with the period between November 2021 and July 2022 the driest eight consecutive months since 1976. For the month of July, only eight per cent of average rainfall for the month was seen, with the long-term forecast for August and September suggesting a similar story.


Demand for water over the summer has also broken all previous records, including during the heatwave that was seen in lockdown 2021. An additional 120 million litres of water has been provided a day to supply customers – the equivalent of supplying a further four towns as big as Eastbourne or Maidstone each day.


It’s a similar story over at Southern Water, which brought in a temporary use ban for customers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on July 29th. The region has seen one of its driest years for a century, with the highest temperatures ever seen causing a drought, which is now threatening the habitats of the River Test and the River Itchen.


This is the first time that such restrictions have been implemented in the area since 2012, with the hot weather and reduced rainfall, along with increased demand, leaving river water levels significantly lower than usual.


The ban comes in today (August 5th), which means it is no longer permissible to use hosepipes to water gardens or clean cars, while swimming pools and ornamental ponds mustn’t be filled.


Dr Alison Hoyle, director of risk and compliance with the water supplier, said: “We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we know the Temporary Use Ban will have an impact on our customers.


“We’re working with the Environment Agency to ensure that we act responsibly to protect our environment. We’re asking everyone in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to do their bit by supporting these measures and only use the water that they need.”


Towards the end of last month (July), the Environment Agency convened the National Drought Group to discuss the period of prolonged dry weather that the UK has been seeing of late.


Chair of the group Harvey Bradshaw explained that the organisation is now working closely with water suppliers, farmers and water users to manage the situation. He confirmed that there are currently no plans in place for restrictions on essential water use, but everyone can help ease the pressure by reducing unnecessary water consumption.


Currently, nowhere in England is considered to be in drought and most water suppliers have good reservoir storage to meet summer demand. Any further measures necessary will be determined by the individual water companies themselves, while drought permits and drought orders will be determined by the Environment Agency and Defra respectively.


Drought risk is being managed through abstraction licences, drought orders, water transfer schemes, farming sector collaboration and reoxygenation of water, rescuing fish in distress where river flows have fallen particularly low.


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