Britain's first water drought in four years causes hosepipe ban

Caroline Cassidy

Areas of North-West England that only a few months ago were suffering from floods after torrential rainstorms may now be required to enforce a hosepipe ban after water companies declared Britain's first drought in four years.

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Following four unseasonably dry months, all water sources in the North-West including lakes, rivers and reservoirs are at their lowest since the 1960s. One town that may be affected by water restrictions is Cockermouth, in Cumbria, which in November had hundreds of houses flooded after rainstorms.

The water company United Utilities will apply for an official drought order today which will give them permission to take more water than usual from lakes. They have applied to take water from the Lake District reservoirs of Ennerdale and Windermere and from Longdendale Valley reservoir in the Peak District.

John Sanders, spokesman for United Utilities, said: "It's been an unprecedented period of dry weather since December 2009, and we need to take action now so we can tap into available water resources if the dry weather continues."

The Environment Agency are concerned that North Wales is also on the brink of drought, and this weekend is set to be the hottest so far this year with temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees. The rest of the UK has sustainable water levels thanks to heavy rainfall during February.

EA water resources head Trevor Bishop hopes that the official drought status will make people realise that water conservation is a critical issue.

He said: "The situation in north-west England is a reminder that water is a precious resource which we must all use more wisely."

Some seven million people could be facing hosepipe bans and water restrictions within the next few weeks unless rain starts falling again, but since the weather forecast is dry, United Utilities feel they must prepare for the worst.

Mr Sanders said: "We have taken early action to move water around the region to even out supplies, and we are also bringing groundwater reserves into use.

"With the dry weather continuing, there are simple things we can all do to save water like not running the tap while brushing your teeth."

Do you think that situations such as this could be avoided if our privatised water companies were more efficient? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.