‘Drought declared’ in South Yorkshire

Drought The River Don  at Neepsend
Drought The River Don at Neepsend

SOUTH Yorkshire is officially in drought - with a lack of water affecting rivers across the county following months of below-average rainfall.

Sections of the River Don and the River Rother are running low, leading the Environment Agency to confirm the region is experiencing drought conditions.

And the dry weather is set to continue over the coming months, with forecasters warning the amount of expected rainfall will not be enough to top up South Yorkshire’s waterways.

The agency says it made the announcement because of concerns about the drought’s effect on the environment - but restrictions are not yet likely to be placed on residents’ water supplies.

In the Don catchment, rainfall figures show it has been the second driest 12 months on record since 1910.

Ben Hughes, the Environment Agency’s drought manager for Yorkshire, said: “The dry spell is forecast to continue over the next few months.

“We’ve been working with Yorkshire Water, and it is not anticipated there will be an impact on public water supplies at this stage.

“However, we expect to see lower river levels, and some small springs and streams drying up, which will affect people who use those waterways, as well as fish and other wildlife.”

Jim Dale, senior risk meteorologist at British Weather Services, said this summer will see pockets of hot weather in between rainy spells.

“In terms of later June and into July, there’s a potential heatwave situation,” said Jim.

“We’ll see some decent rain, heavy rain, but equally some hot spells. But it’s going to take a lengthy period of time before the drought warning gets reversed.

“It’s got to be a month or two of fairly concerted rain. You could well be in a drought-restricted zone where it’s raining. You need a lot of it and it’s just not enough.”

South Yorkshire is currently basking in unseasonable heat - temperatures of 20 degrees Celcius are expected today, while thermometers will reach around 18 degrees tomorrow. Friday is set to be cooler, with temperatures of nine or 10 degrees on Saturday and a chance of patchy rain.

“By Easter weekend it’ll be much colder with some rain at times,” Jim said.

“We’ll expect to lose the high pressure, almost the reverse of what we’ve got now. April will be a changeable month.”

In winter, the Environment Agency restricted the amount of water which could be abstracted from rivers in some areas of Yorkshire and, if dry conditions continue, more holders of abstraction licences may be affected to save water.

Mr Hughes said: “We are appealing to all water abstractors, including farmers and businesses, to look for ways to share and make the best use of a limited water resource.

“Everyone has a part to play in making sure we use water efficiently and even small changes can make a big difference to the overall picture.”

Yorkshire Water spokesman Matt Thompson said: “We continue to work hard to manage and balance our stocks of water, particularly in the east of the region where borehole levels are 20 per cent lower than would normally be expected for this time of year.”

n Visit www.yorkshirewater.com/savewater for advice on how to save water.