Why the North West isn't in a drought or facing a hose pipe ban

A drought was declared across the South and Midlands today

With parts of England officially moving into drought status, the North West has become one of the only regions not to be affected or have a hosepipe ban.

A drought was declared across the South and Midlands on Friday 12th August after the driest first half of the year since 1976.

However, although the North West has experienced a dry summer, it has not had a state of “prolonged dry weather” like most of the country.

The Met Office says rainfall in the North West, from June until the first week of August, was around 53% of the average, whereas normally it would be at between 70-80%.

But, in the South East, the average rainfall was only 23% of where it should be.

United Utilities says it "is not considering any restrictions on use", but it is urging people to use water wisely.

The region's reservoirs are currently 59.4% full, compared to this time last year when they were 68.5% full.

However all but one reservoir increased their water levels in the past week, recent figures released by United Utilities show.

The lowest reservoir was Pennine Sources, which includes Woodhead and Dovestone, which was at just 49.3% - compared to an average level of 73.8% last year.

Where does the North West get its water from?

Around half of the population relies on water collected in the Lake District.

The high rainfall, combined with the geology and deep glacial valleys in the Lake District, means the area stores large volumes of water.

The largest reservoirs which serve the North West are Haweswater and Thirlmere, both in Cumbria. Haweswater holds more than 84 billion litres of water - equivalent to around 33,800 Olympic swimming pools.

Other major supplies of water for the region are smaller reservoirs in the Pennines, and Lake Vyrnwy and the River Dee in North Wales.

The integrated nature of United Utilities supply network allows water to be moved around the region to where it is most needed.

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “Some parts of the North West region have seen less rainfall than others, particularly the Pennine area.

"However, our major water sources in Cumbria have seen more normal levels of rainfall and we can use our regional network of water resources and water pipes to move supplies to where they are needed."

The water company adds: "We are not considering any restrictions on use, but whatever the weather, we always encourage people to use water wisely, which saves energy and money and is good for the environment.”

The Environment Agency says England could see a drought which lasts into 2023. Credit: PA Images

Elsewhere in the North West, the Isle of Man was one of the first places to introduce a hosepipe ban.

Manx Utilities introduced the ban on 29 July after warm weather and an increase in water usage over recent weeks.

Fines of £2,000 will be given to those who choose not to follow the temporary rules.

Drought occurs during a period of hot, dry weather and low rainfall, leading to a water shortage. Some of the effects can include wildfires, crop failure and water pollution.

The National Drought Group's decision to declare one will likely prompt more hosepipe bans and further measures by water companies to manage resources to protect dwindling supplies.

Neighouring Yorkshire Water, which supplies five million customers, has become the latest company to announce a hosepipe ban, with restrictions coming into effect from 26 August.

The overconsumption of water comes as a four-day amber warning for extreme heat from the Met Office is in place for much of England and Wales until Sunday, with warnings of health impacts and disruption to travel.

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