The Environment Agency has today confirmed that some parts of Yorkshire are now officially in drought.
The drought order applies to some catchments of the Rivers Don, Rother, Hull and Derwent and has been issued because the agency is concerned about the effect of drought on the environment.
In the River Hull & Don catchments data shows that it’s been the second driest 12 months since 1910.
But what does the drought order mean?
Firstly, there are no implications for public water supplies.
Despite bore holes in eastern parts of Yorkshire being 20% lower than normal, most of the county’s water comes from reservoirs in the west, which are more than 90% full. This water can be pumped around the county as necessary.
However, the Environment Agency does have the power to restrict how much water Yorkshire Water can abstract from bore holes if necessary, which would put an additional strain on water stocks further west.
But the current dry spell would have to last many more weeks for Yorkshire Water to start thinking about the possibility of restricting supplies to consumers, as has been the case for Anglian customers in Lincolnshire and parts of Nottinghamshire, who face a hosepipe ban from April 5th.
For agricultural and industrial users, the situation is different. Some have licenses to abstract water from underground sources, and in these instances, should drought conditions deteriorate further, holders of such licenses could be told by the Environment Agency to limit how much water they pump to the surface for their own use. In fact some have faced restrictions since last winter.
The Environment Agency is taking this step primarily to protect fish and other wildlife, because it expects to see lower river levels, as well as some streams drying up.