Drought Conditions in Brentwood and Ongar
Letter from the Environment Agency
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, announced this week that the south east of England is in drought.
Why have we declared a drought?
Our evidence shows that nine of the past 16 months (from October 2010 to January 2012) have seen below average rainfall in the south east. There is a continual decline of water resources (groundwater levels and river flows), and an increasing risk to public water supplies and the environment. Many reservoirs are also much lower than normal for this time of year. Itís important that everyone is aware of, and manages, their own water use.
What does this mean for Brentwood and Ongar?
Your constituency falls into the catchment of the River Roding. The lack of rainfall across the catchment has left river levels below average. The River Roding currently only has 29 percent of its average flow through Redbridge. This lack of water can have a huge impact on wildlife in our rivers. There is also less water available to dilute any pollution that enters the river, which could severely affect urban catchments like the Roding . We need people to be extra vigilant when out and about near rivers.
If the drought continues we expect more water companies to apply for drought permits. These permits allow them to abstract more from the environment for public water supplies. We are having formal pre-application discussions with Thames Water about four possible permit applications. We are also meeting regularly with Veolia Water Central to review their water supply situation and help them put plans in place, should this dry weather continue. So far, they have not sought additional water supplies. As we move into the spring, however, we could be seeing Water Company wide restrictions on water usage to customers.
What are we doing?
It is our job to balance the water needs of people and the environment, and we will be working with others to find the best way to achieve this balance. Our drought plan for the south east sets out how we will manage water resources during a drought and our response to incidents. We are monitoring water levels in the environment and sharing this information with local water abstractors (water companies, farmers, etc) so they can understand the full picture and take action.
What can your constituents do?
We want people and businesses to use water wisely every day, not just during a drought. Information on ways to save water can be found on our website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/drought
We also want people to be our eyes and ears on their local rivers. If people see any fish in distress or pollution incidents, they can call our Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60. We can then get officers out to investigate and take action where necessary.