The Reality of the UKs Heatwave and Potential Drought

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Have you ever noticed that nobody talks about water until we’ve had a week or two of sunshine and the tabloids start touting their usual hosepipe ban bogeyman?

The reality is that most people have no idea what lies beneath our feet in terms of water infrastructure. There’s a maze of pipes, pumps and drainage systems delivering clean water, removing wastewater, diverting rainfall and runoff to stave off floods.

Often, the only time our attention is turned to water is when the media bring it forward to talk about a juicy story that ultimately responds to water issues surrounding ‘drought’. Yet even then, we don’t listen to requests from water companies to use water wisely, stating things like “it rains too much in the UK to have a drought” or “my neighbour doesn’t save water, why should I?” or “how about you just fix all the leaks!”.


Where does the real water issue lie?

At the moment, everything fails to deal with the institutional and structural arrangements for water.

The fact that we treat water to drinking standard and then flush it down the loo or water the garden with it is, quite frankly, is a complete waste.

We need to be looking at infrastructure and try to future-proof new developments and housing much in the same way as are with energy: decentralising it from the grid and considering what options are available on a local scale.

At the moment, everyone seems to be building and using the cheapest options without consideration for long-term use and reduced operating costs. Instead, we should be looking at sustainable water systems which use stormwater, recycled and reused water.

But let’s get back to the issue at hand – the UK’s heatwave and how prepared we are at dealing with a drought.


If there was a water ban tomorrow would you know what to do?

Does your business have a ‘drought’ or an interruption to supply plan?

On any "normal" day if a supply fails then the water company must supply 10 litres of water per person per 24 hours. In the event of a drought, this may not be possible, but you may be due monetary compensation. How would restrictions authorised by emergency drought orders affect you?

Would you know how to plan, manage and cope? What can you do now? How would your operations fair? How resilient is your supply chain? Do you even know your water footprint? Do you know what to measure and report?

If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, then drop us a line. We are experts in water resource management – our Head of Water Services, Tracy, lived through and helped Australian businesses cope with a 7-year drought.


WaterTracy Britton