Water company United Utilities says it is struggling to meet demand with an extra half a billion litres of water a day being provided to customers across the North West.
The Environment Agency has put together a dry weather briefing for the North West of England, where prolonged low rainfall since early May has reduced river flows, reservoir and lake levels.
The Met Office has predicted largely dry weather for July in the North West, with the first forecast of rain on July 18.
United Utilities is urging people not to use hosepipes or garden sprinklers, not washing their cars, and taking shorter showers and no baths.
Haweswater in the Lake District - part of United Utilities regional integrated water resource zone - has dropped below its first and second drought trigger. Ennerdale has now dropped below its first drought trigger.
In West Cumbria, passing the first drought trigger increases the likelihood of United Utilities having to increase the amount of water supplied from boreholes, to ensure they continue to protect the sensitive natural environment around Ennerdale and the River Eden.
A spokesperson for United Utilities said: “The hot weather means we’re seeing a massive increase in water consumption across our area.
“We’re currently providing an additional half a billion litres of water a day above what we normally supply to our customers across the North West.
“We urgently need your help and support to avoid a hosepipe ban.
“You can help us by turning off your garden sprinklers, not using your hosepipes, not washing your car and taking shorter showers and not baths.
“The demand is so high, particularly during peak times, that we are struggling to get enough water around the system quick enough.
“If we can all do our bit this will reduce the risk of lower water pressure or no water at all.
“If you run a business, we’d really appreciate your support too.
“If you have employees, encourage them to suggest ways to save water in the workplace and fix any leaks or bursts as soon as possible. Remember, reducing your overall usage will also help to reduce your water bills too.
“Thank you, we really appreciate your help.”
In their dry weather briefing, The Environment Agency said: “Nationally, at the start of June, river flows, groundwater levels and soils were normal for the time of year in most areas of England. This followed the rain in early spring which helped groundwaters in the South East to recover from previously low levels. However, a natural reduction in river flows and groundwater levels at this time of year is to be expected and water companies plan for these summer months.
“Although it has been a mixed picture across North West England, prolonged low rainfall across the North West since early May, has reduced river flows, reservoir and lake levels.
“United Utilities are now taking the steps outlined in their 2018 Drought Plan in light of the dry weather.
“It means they have stepped up their planning and will continue to manage the situation in line with their dry weather processes.
“Currently, some key United Utilities storage reservoirs have reduced levels following this dry weather period.
“Haweswater - part of United Utilities regional integrated Drought trigger 2 is the second of four checkpoints to ensure that during periods of dry weather United Utilities are taking all appropriate actions to manage water resources effectively.
“As usual, they will be monitoring the situation throughout the summer, and continue to use their integrated water network to move supplies around the region to balance the needs of customers and the environment.
As you will be aware, United Utilities has also started a public awareness campaign which is currently under way on regional radio, newspapers and direct to customers to promote water saving tips to help manage demand, and publicising their leakline.
“We are working together with United Utilities to minimise any potential impacts to people and the environment should the dry weather continue. Robust and well-tested plans are in place to help ensure that, at all times, we make the best use of the water available and minimise any potential impacts to people, the environment and tourism. We are regulating water company and non-water company abstractions and advising businesses and farmers on water usage.
“Our teams are monitoring for environmental impacts, responding to incidents across the region, where required, and taking action to protect the environment.” What can you do?
The average person in England uses 140 litres per day. We all need to increase the amount of water we save to protect our natural environment and drinking water supplies.
United Utilities’ top tips for saving water, energy and money include the following:
1. Only wash full loads in your washing machine or dishwasher
2. Use a bucket and sponge to wash your car, rather than a hose-pipe
3. Have a four-minute shower, instead of a bath
4. Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth
5. Install a water butt to collect rainwater for watering your garden (see our website for
6. Water your garden early in the morning or in the evening, when it is cooler.
You can read more on their website at www.unitedutilities.com.
As always, if people see any environmental impacts due to dry weather, such as low flows, fish in distress or algae blooms, please report it to the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60 so they can investigate and minimise any potential impacts on the environment.