Will the taps run dry?

South West Water introduced a hosepipe ban in August for the first time in 26 years in Cornwall and parts of Devon but water levels at one of the UK’s largest reservoirs are now at 20%.

Wimbleball Lake, on Exmoor in Somerset, can store 21,000 megalitres of water.  The previous lowest low was 26.4% in 1995 – also an exceptionally dry year.

Anglian Water, on the other hand, has said: “Because of the investments we’ve made and the support of our customers, we still do not envisage needing a hosepipe ban in our region.”  Anglian has taken great trouble to improve resilience by investing both in supply – by building new water treatments; in distribution – by using advanced pressure management and leakage detection – giving them the best leakage record in the industry; and in collections – with 90% of customers having meters.

And yet rainfall maps suggest that Anglian Water’s territory has had lower rainfall than South West’s.

Meanwhile the mighty Mississippi has turned into a trickle after lower than average rainfall.  More than 133 million people live in the drought-stricken areas of the USA.

A lot more water companies are going to need to install advanced pressure management and leakage detection if the world is going to be able to cope with more extreme weather more often.