Environment Agency granted drought order for Holme Styes reservoir near Holmfirth

Holme Styes reservoir
Low water levels have prompted concern for wildlife at Holme Styes. Credit: Hanna Reilly/Facebook

An order has been granted to prevent a Yorkshire reservoir from drying up after officials said animals and plant life could die.

The Environment Agency made an application to the Environment Secretary for a drought order, which would offer extra powers to prevent Holme Styes reservoir in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, from running dry.  

It means the agency can ask Yorkshire Water to slow the flow of water leaving the reservoir to manage habitats and river flows to protect wildlife. The flow of water will halve from two million to one million litres a day.  

Officials said the order would have no impact on the public water supply as Holme Styes is a historic mill reservoir – not part of the public water infrastructure.  

Victoria Slingsby, environment planning and engagement manager for the Environment Agency in Yorkshire, said: "Without it, the reservoir could run dry and plants and animals that rely on it would die.  

"It’s an example of the action we are taking right across the country as the extreme temperatures increase the likelihood of local impacts and put pressure on the water environment and wildlife."

What are drought orders?  

Drought orders can be applied for by the Environment Agency or a water company. They can be used by the Environment Agency to protect the environment or by water companies to maintain the water supply.  

Orders are issued by the Environment Secretary, who must be satisfied that there is an exceptional shortage of rain, and a threat to water supplies or a serious threat to the environment.  

The news comes as a drought was declared for parts of the country on Friday, 12 August, following months of little rain.

The Environment Agency declared on 13 July that Yorkshire was experiencing prolonged dry weather. The declaration means actions are taken to minimise impacts on the environment.  

July recorded the fifth month in a row of below average long term average rainfall for Yorkshire, with most of Yorkshire’s rivers in below normal flow conditions.  

The agency is asking people to report environmental impacts due to dry weather, such as fish in distress.   

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