Record rainfall in UK prompts water firms to make popular summer prediction

Bartley Reservoir in south Birmingham
Bartley Reservoir in south Birmingham -Credit:SWNS

The wettest year on record for the UK has prompted water companies to predict there will be no hosepipe bans this year. After some of the highest ever downpours, the UK's largest reservoirs including Bartley Reservoir in South Birmingham, Trimpley Reservoir in Worcestershire, and Derwent Water in the Peak District are teeming with water, not to mention Carsington Water in Derbyshire, Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire and Blagdon Lake in Bristol.

The deluge spanning the 18 months up to last month led to a record-breaking 1,695.9mm of rain falling across England, according to Met Office figures. It's the most our country has observed over any such period since records started back in 1836.

Now, water companies across the board are giving us the thumbs up, proclaiming our water levels are in a 'healthy' state, quashing fears of summertime hosepipe bans. With reserves looking in fine fettle, South West Water expressed confidence they won't need to impose any restrictions in Devon or Cornwall this year - even if we experience an extended stretch of hot and dry conditions.

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David Harris, South West Water's Drought and Resilience Director said: "While it may seem obvious that recent heavy rainfall has led to increased reservoir levels across the region, over one-third of the additional storage has come from our own supply interventions and customers reducing their own usage."

Despite uncertainties related to the weather and climate change, a spokesperson assured customers: "As a direct result of our investments, interventions, the weather and our customers reducing their use of water, we are confident that we are in a strong position to navigate whatever weather we face this year without the need for water restrictions."

Moreover, the representative stressed that these efforts will continue to ensure clean water supplies across every region, in preparation for unpredictable weather patterns. An additional statement from a Wessex Water spokesperson makes it clear that there seems to be "no prospect of any restrictions" at present. They pointed out that there hasn't been "a hosepipe ban in the Wessex Water supply region since 1976."

Echoing these sentiments, Nick Price, Head of Water Resources at South East Water, also revealed their positive outlook for water availability over the upcoming season. He said: "All of our raw water resources are in a healthy position at the current time and are slightly above average levels, which is where we would expect them to be given this winter's record rainfall."

And while no shortage of raw water available for treatment is anticipated like last year, he cited past experiences of not being able to process and distribute water fast enough during periods of peak demand.

He added: "This means that our cleaned water storage tanks are sometime unable to refill fully overnight. To help we are about to start a water efficiency campaign with our customers asking them to make one small change this summer, aimed at flattening the extreme demand peaks we have seen in previous years."

Water levels are high at Derwent Water in the Peak District
Water levels are high at Derwent Water in the Peak District -Credit:SWNS

A Southern Water spokesperson mentioned there's a 'small chance' of an issue in one area, stating: "All our reservoirs are full, and our groundwater sources are at their highest levels for ten years.

"If we face extreme weather conditions again this summer, like we did in Summer 2022, there is a very small chance we could face an issue in Hampshire, where we take our role in protecting the precious chalk streams of the Test and Itchen very seriously. Although we do not foresee any problems at this time, we will continue to hold regular drought readiness meetings in case."

Thames Water has been keen to reassure customers the wet winter weather has helped replenish water resources, putting them in "a good place ahead of summer, with rainfall well above average."

A Thames Water spokesperson added: "We carefully monitor our water resources, and while we currently don't anticipate the need for a hosepipe ban this summer, we do encourage our customers to use water wisely as we head into spring."

"Our reservoir levels are healthy for this time of year with London above 95% and Farmoor at 88%. Groundwater levels are also normal to exceptionally high and river flows are above average for the time of year."

Welsh Water expressed satisfaction with their current water levels, although stressed the importance of not wasting it. An official spokesperson stated: "Our reservoir levels are in the position expected for this time of year and we currently do not have concerns regarding water resources."

Also emphasising mindful usage, they added: "As we do at any time of the year however, we ask customers to be mindful of how they use water and avoid wasting it."

They further encouraged conservation by stating, "Our message is to use as much drinking water as you need, but please don't waste it."