1. ITV Report

Are we at risk of a Summer drought?

Environment Agency say river levels are currently nothing to worry about Photo: Photo: Michael Maxwell

There have been some reports in the press that dry weather this June could bring a return of drought conditions to the UK.

For the northwest the six month period December 2013 to May 2014 has been the second wettest on record, and for the UK as a whole it's been the wettest ever. This means that resources look healthy going forward into the Summer period.

The Environment Agency measure water resources in England every week to assess how dry the soils are and how much rain they can soak up. They measure the amount of water flowing in rivers, the amount stored below ground in aquifers and the amount above ground in reservoirs.

The EA's drought advisor, Victoria Williams, reassures us that "all our rivers have responded to rainfall and are currently within the normal ranges". The May report for the northwest, issued on June 9th, says that river flow and groundwater levels for the region were between 'normal' and 'exeptionally high'. It seems we have nothing to worry about, for now.

It's been a very mild Spring and for the northwest the third warmest on record. So far June has been warm and dry, which may be a reason for the rumours in the press about drought. But rivers decreasing in volume is exactly what we would expect going into the Summer season.

Late May at Yarrow Reservoir nr Rivington, Lancashire. Credit: BRIAN FISHER

Williams' says the Environment Agency's computer model, that assesses possible future rainfall and it's subsuquent affect on rivers and groundwaters, shows a broadly positive picture even if rainfall is below average. This means that although there is a risk of drought, should rainfall be low, this risk is no higher or greater than average.

This doesn't mean we should be wasteful with water. Using water wisely is still important. If the weather does turn out to be hot and dry this could have an impact locally on communities and businesses.

What looks to be more worrying is what's expected looking decades ahead. The assesment models suggest that our changing climate could reduce some river flows during summer months by up to 80% in the next 40 years – increasing the challenge of ensuring there is enough water for people and places, agriculture and the environment.

Read the entire article from Victoria Willaims via the Met Office here.

For more information on water situation reports for the Northwest see The Environment Agency website.

Ogden reservoir in Barley Credit: ANN HARTLEY of Colne