Swindon's drought status confirmed by Environment Agency

·2-min read
The dry landscape around the GWH and the River Thames near Ashton Keynes completely dried up Photo: Brian Marshall
The dry landscape around the GWH and the River Thames near Ashton Keynes completely dried up Photo: Brian Marshall

A drought has been declared for Swindon as 30C temperatures continue into the weekend.

And Thames Water, which supplies the town's households and businesses, says it is now preparing to introduce a hosepipe ban as the next part of its plan to deal with the long, dry summer spell of weather.

The National Drought Group's decision on Friday comes as a lack of rainfall has resulted in exceptionally low river flows and reservoir levels falling across much of England.

These issues have been exacerbated by further high temperatures, including this week’s heatwave, which continues to add additional pressure on the water environment and wildlife.

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon's fields looking worse for wear
Swindon Advertiser: Swindon's fields looking worse for wear

Swindon's fields looking worse for wear

While the region's water company says it will be bringing in more measures, it - as well as the water minister - have provided assurances that taps won't run dry.

In response to the Environment Agency’s decision to move to drought, a Thames Water spokesperson said: “We’ve been preparing for a potential drought this summer since the winter last year.

"We have also worked closely with the Environment Agency to keep our Thames Valley storage at Farmoor Reservoir topped up as much as possible and in May we launched a media campaign urging customers to use water efficiently.

“The prolonged hot weather and ongoing lack of rain has meant that we are now planning to take our drought plan to the next stage which is to introduce a temporary use ban. We anticipate announcing the details next week.

"In the meantime, we continue to urge our customers to only use what they need for their essential use."

Water Minister Steve Double said: “All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies.

Swindon Advertiser: The River Thames to the west of Ashton Keynes has completey run dry
Swindon Advertiser: The River Thames to the west of Ashton Keynes has completey run dry

The River Thames to the west of Ashton Keynes has completey run dry

There have been five consecutive months of below-average rainfall across all geographic regions in England and above-average temperatures.

Thirteen Environment Agency monitored indicator rivers are at the lowest levels ever recorded and soil moisture deficit is comparable to that seen at the end of the 1976 drought.

The National Drought Group is made up of senior decision-makers from the Environment Agency, government, water companies and key representative groups as well as Mr Double.

Eight of the 14 areas that the Environment Agency manages were included in the announcement. , including the Thames area which Swindon falls under.

The last drought in England was 2018.

Temperatures are set to peak at 34C in Swindon this weekend before a break in the weather on Monday, when the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for thunderstorms.