Drought declared in parts of Wales following the driest year since 1976
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Following the extended period of dry weather, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that the trigger thresholds have been met to move South West Wales into drought status from this morning, Friday 19 August.
Trigger thresholds have not been met in the north but many rivers are “exceptionally low” including the River Alyn.
NRW’s decision to move from prolonged dry weather status to drought for the area was agreed and shared with a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Drought Liaison Group and after “consideration of the exacerbated pressures the high temperatures and lack of significant rainfall have had on the environment in this area.”
NRW said the rest of Wales “remains in prolonged dry weather status but concerns still remain.”
While essential supplies of water remain safe, the public and businesses in drought affected areas “should be very mindful of the pressures on water resources and should use water wisely.” NRW said.
“NRW continues to closely monitor the situation across Wales, working with partners and will take action as required. ”
Natalie Hall, Sustainable Water Manager for NRW, said:
“Prolonged dry weather can lead to drought when rainfall remains low. This can impact some of our most precious habitats and species as well as systems we often take for granted, such as our water supplies.
“We have decided to declare a state of drought in South West Wales after it was clear the lack of rain and recent heat have put a huge strain on our rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.”
The areas affected are:
- North Ceredigion (Rheidol, Aeron, Ystwyth)
- Pembrokeshire (Eastern and Western Cleddau)
- Carmarthen (Tywi and Taf)
- Swansea and Llanelli (Tawe and Loughor)
- Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend (Neath, Afan, Ogmore)
South West Wales received just 65.5% of its average rainfall in July and all river levels in the area are lower than expected for this time of the year, with the Ewenny, Teifi and Taf exceptionally low.
Low groundwater levels coupled with record high temperatures, have also put a strain on the region’s ecosystems as well as public water supplies in Pembrokeshire and parts of Carmarthenshire.
The rest of the country continues to experience a period of prolonged dry weather, despite there being some recent rainfall.
Across the rest of Wales, the majority of rivers across Wales are lower than expected for the time of year, with many exceptionally low including the Alyn, Conwy, Clwyd, Taf, Teifi, Ewenny, Wye, Usk and Ebbw.
Between March and July Wales received just 61% of its expected rainfall resulting in the driest five-month period in 40 years
NRW is advising the residents of Pembrokeshire to follow water conservation advice given by Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, who have introduced a temporary use ban, more commonly known as a hosepipe ban, which will also come into effect today (Friday 19 August).
NRW and Welsh Government (WG) also attend the national drought group for England to address any cross-border concerns.
Natalie added: “While certain parts of Wales may be experiencing rain, it can still take a long time to recover from drought, making water a precious resource.
“We’re urging the public to save water where possible; you can find the latest ad advice on water by visiting your water company’s website or Waterwise (www.waterwise.org.uk).
“Please report any incidents on the current dry weather on our 24-hour hotline on 0300 065 3000.”
A London-based union has called for the UK government to implement a Victorian-era plan to move water from Wales to cope with “foreseeable periodic droughts in London and the South East.”
GMB London has said the “win-win plan” would see water – which is offered by United Utilities – moved from Lake Vyrnwy to the Thames via the restoration of the Cotswold canals and Sapperton tunnel.
Lake Vyrnwy is a reservoir in Powys, built in the 1880s for Liverpool Corporation Waterworks to supply Liverpool with fresh water.
Mark Holland, GMB London Regional Organiser for the water industry, said:
“As we experience yet another utterly predictable period of summer drought GMB is calling yet again on politicians and the public to urge Thames Water to implement a plan first developed by the Victorians to move water from the west of the UK via the Severn and the Cotswold canals and Sapperton tunnel into the Thames.”
“This is a win-win plan. Thames Water should accept the water being offered by United Utilities from Lake Vyrnwy and get it to the Thames via the restoration of the Cotswold canals and Sapperton tunnel.
“This plan was covered in the Thames Water 2019 draft plan for water supply for London in the 21st century but is not included in the current list of things Thames Water plan to do.
“Instead of this very workable plan, one of the things Thames Water is planning to rely on is the hope of consumers cutting daily consumption from 145 litres to 125 litres.”
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