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Drought officially declared across the whole of Wales

08 Sep 2022 3 minute read
Cantref Reservoir in Brecon Beacons National Park. Photo Ben Birchall PA Images

A drought has been officially declared across the whole of Wales despite recent rainfall, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has announced.

It is the first nation-wide drought for 16 years, and comes after the nation only experienced 56% of its average rainfall between March and August.

The six-month period has been the third driest since records began in 1865.

Despite recent heavy rain and flooding in some parts of the country, NRW said it would take time to restore ground, river and reservoir water levels.

The decision to take most of the country from ‘prolonged dry weather’ status to drought came after a meeting on Thursday between the Wales Drought Liaison Group, which includes NRW, water companies, Public Health Wales (PHW), and a number of other bodies.

Dry spring

Natalie Hall, sustainable water manager at NRW, said: “After a dry spring and summer, and the impact very little rain over a sustained period have had on our natural environment, we have taken the decision to move the whole of Wales into drought status.

“Rainfall experienced across the country over recent weeks has not been anywhere near enough to replenish rivers, groundwater or reservoirs to normal levels.

“We will need to see sustained or above-average rainfall over the coming weeks and months to see any tangible difference. If we don’t see that rainfall, we can expect many areas to remain in drought.

“While essential water supplies remain safe, the public and businesses right across Wales areas are being urged to use water wisely and manage this precious resource at this time.”

Climate change

The government agency said the situation showed a “pressing need” to prepare and adapt to the environmental impacts of climate change.

Ms Hall added: “We do expect these events to occur more frequently due to climate change and we are building that knowledge into our preparations.”

She said the long-term effects of the drought on the environment may not be known for some time.

The agency said water levels in rivers including the Wye, Usk, Dee and Upper Severn remained very low and there is concern about fish, many of which have been found in distress or dying, and other wildlife.

Peatlands, wetlands and mature forests appear to be coping well, it added.

Welsh Water said there would be no impact on supply of water to households or businesses.

Public Health Wales said people should continue using water for cooking, hygiene and for keeping hydrated.

And urged against using bottled water to make up infant formula as it may not be sterile and contain minerals that are not healthy for young children.

Examples of steps people are advised to take to reduce their water consumption and avoid being wasteful include only using the washing machine or dishwasher for a full load, and taking a shower instead of a bath.

Wales uses more water per head than in the rest of the UK, and Welsh Water said it was looking at how to encourage the public to use less.


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Gareth
Gareth
20 days ago

Shocking timing 0f this announcement, coming a few weeks after it was announced by Westminster, that work was already underway to move water from Cymru to drought hit areas of England.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
20 days ago

So Wales as a whole is now officially in drought. This ironically coincides with Whitehall announcing that they were about to network water from Wales to the SE & Home Counties. What England wants it takes. They won’t be happy until Wales itself is circled by a dam and drowned entirely.

Andrew
Andrew
20 days ago

Dam Westminster. It’s full of pond life and bottom feeders anyway. They will help to filtrate the water. Dwr Cymru. Not for us, for London.

The original mark
The original mark
20 days ago

Apart from the lack of rain, I would suggest other mitigating issues are to blame, like poor maintenance and lack of investment of infrastructure, from reservoirs to pipework, too much water being taken out of the country to satisfy use elsewhere, too much emphasis put on shareholders profitability.

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