Help & Advice

What happens when there is a drought?

When a drought occurs, our first priority is to maintain a healthy supply of water to our customers while protecting our water sources for the future.

Our drought plan outlines a number of 'triggers' which tell us that we need to take action. A trigger might be the level of water in a reservoir or borehole.

As a dry spell increases in length or rainfall becomes less, the actions connected to each trigger allow us to react appropriately to the drought based on its severity.

The actions are divided into two groups, one that focuses on demand side (the use of water) and one that focuses on supply side (the production of water).

Demand side options

Demand side options are actions that our customers will see the most.  Some of the actions we might take are shown here, ordered with increasing severity:

Demand side options Description
Extra promotion of water efficiency and increase publicity Asking customers to use less through the news and internet, increasing with coverage and frequency in line with the severity. Offer additional water efficiency devices and audit businesses water use.
Increased leakage detection and repair Focusing more people and time on finding and repairing leaks.
Temporary usage ban Asking customers to not use water for some activities, like using hose pipes to water the garden or wash vehicles.
Enhanced pressure management Reducing the pressure in the water mains to help reduce the amount of water lost through leakage.
Banning of non-essential use The most serious measure, a ban on non-essential use would prohibit the use of water for some activities by law.

Hose pipe sprinkler

Supply side options

Supply side actions, with increasing severity, might include:

Supply side option Description
Introduction of extra supply sources Bring in or activate additional supplies where available
Ensuring all supply sources are fully operational Sometimes a source may not be in use due to maintenance or a breakdown - these would be brought back into service as quickly as possible
Prioritising water supply to underground sources Decrease abstraction from sources that are more drought sensitive (reservoirs, rivers) and increase abstraction from those that are less sensitive (ground water)
Asking for supplies from nearby water companies If nearby water companies are unaffected by the drought conditions, we might be able to transfer a small amount of water to reinforce our own supply
Asking for special powers to take more water from the environment and rivers As a last resort, a drought order approved by the government would allow us to take more water from the environment than we normally would be allowed to


Because we monitor drought conditions and analyse historical weather, we don’t expect to have to take these actions very often.

For example, we plan to have enough water and manage our resources so that we will not require a temporary usage ban any more than once every 40 years.

A ban on non-essential use is not expected more than once in every 80 years.


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