The Met Office is warning we could experience 1976-style droughts once a decade and the Environment agency is warning London and the South East need to take action now to prepare.
“The extremes of weather that we saw last year highlight the urgent need to plan for a changing climate.
More of this extreme weather will exacerbate many of problems that we already deal with including flooding and water scarcity, so taking action today to prepare and adapt homes,businesses, agricultural practices and infrastructure is vital.”
:Chief of the EnvironmentAgency, Lord Smith
So why has the South East been singled out as being particularly at risk from extreme weather?
Well, the main problem is the sheer number of people and the scale of land development.
The population of London and the South-East is set to grow 23% by 2035. With the average person using 150 litres of water per day that puts a huge strain on water supplies during a drought.
Then there’s the issue of land development.The need to build on green and brown belt sites to support the growing population and industry increases the risk of flooding. With less undeveloped fields and flood plains, heavy rain washes into rivers quicker increasing the risk of flash floods and burst banks.
Finally there’s the problem of reservoirs –or rather lack of them. With longer periods of heavy rain followed by longer drier spells the key is to trap and store the water when it’s raining. Last summer’s hosepipe ban was an indication that the existing reservoirs aren’t sufficient to support the population in times of extreme drought.
Thames Water would like to build more but have to battle against planning constraints and the huge cost of investment and land.
It’s tough to get multi-million pound projects approved during tough economic times.