Parts of England prepare for severe drought
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) held the drought summit on Monday, 20 February 2012, as parts of England prepare to face a drought that could be as severe as that of 1976.
UK environment secretary Caroline Spelman said the meeting would help determine ‘preventative measures’ that could be taken ahead of the summer. She added that although water companies have reduced their leakage by 36 per cent since the 1990s there was still a danger of water shortages. Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith used the summit as an opportunity to urge ‘all water users – especially farmers, businesses and water companies – to plan carefully how they store, use and share water.’
The drought has resurrected calls for water transfers from the wet north and west to the dry south east. Ms Spelman said the solution is not as simple as building a pipeline from the North West to the South East because water was heavy and costly to transport.
Ahead of the summit Thames Water’s sustainability director Richard Aylard told the press that the Thames Valley and London had received below-average rainfall for 18 of the past 23 months. This extended period of below-average rainfall are causing flows in a number of rivers in the Thames Valley and London to be a fraction of their normal volumes. The river Kennet has dried up completely west of Marlborough.