Coronavirus & Driest May on Record Have Suppliers, Public Walking a Tightrope

As the coronavirus crisis continues, water suppliers are airing their concern over the surge of demand for water amid the lockdown. Several water companies have called on consumers to ‘Save Water’ but also not to stop handwashing as per the government’s directive.


Thames Water, the UK’s largest water company, has recorded the highest-ever water demand, which in part is due to the driest May ever recorded and the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown.


England experienced its driest May since the first records were logged 158 years ago. On the other hand, February 2020 is recorded as the wettest and that additional rainwater did not affect the water supply or the alarming surge in demand that water companies are gearing up for in the months leading to the summer season.


Increasing demand for water


The UK’s water companies have been collectively appealing to consumers to use water wisely and conserve as much as they can during the coronavirus lockdown. While there hasn’t been an imposed hosepipe ban by the water industry trade body, the Environment Agency (EA) expressed that most water firms still have appropriate levels of water reserve but this can change if high consumption does not ease soon.


Calls for water conservation are prompted by the logical spike in water demand since people are staying more indoors now than they ever have. Adding to it is the dry weather in May, which reached record-high levels.

The Howden Reservoir in Derbyshire was photographed looking nearly dried up—an unusual sight, which experts worry other reservoirs could end up the same if no urgent action is made. Owner Severn Trent revealed that the reservoir is now only at 51% of its total capacity.


Thames Water, which services over 10 million UK customers, stated that the firm has been processing an additional 35 million gallons every day to meet the increasing demand for water. This record is the highest in all of the company’s 31-year history.


A spokesperson for the biggest water company said that it has become more challenging to meet the water requirements of the country. The firm describes the situation as a ‘perfect storm’ that could put the supply at risk. However, it reckons that the projected above-average rainfall during autumn and winter eliminates the need for a hosepipe ban.


Advising people to control water use


The UK’s Environment Agency, despite confirming that supply is still adequate for the demand, still calls on consumers to use water wisely. The agency also highlighted the need to perform handwashing regularly at all costs, especially now that the coronavirus crisis is still wreaking havoc on a global scale.


Water companies have constantly been advising their customers to avoid garden sprinklers and hoses as much as possible. They are also asking people to stop filling paddling pools for now and instead allocate water to more essential tasks, such as doing the laundry or handwashing.


Water UK CEO Christine McGourty issued a statement saying that water companies are collectively seeing a great surge in demand because usage patterns have changed throughout the pandemic. The weather, coupled with the coronavirus lockdown prompts people to stay indoors, which consequently increases the use of water at home.

McGourty emphasised that water companies are asking every household and business to save water even for a little bit because it will still have a huge impact on the efforts these firms make to keep the supply adequate. Saving water can also reduce stress on the water network and the environment.


Managing the demand


South East Water urges its customers to perform simple water-saving steps like refraining from filling water pools and watering lawns to ensure that everyone in the area receives an adequate supply of water. The firm recorded a 14% increase in water use in recent months.


Yorkshire Water divulged that its reservoirs are around 75% full, which is lower than typical for this time of the year.


The Environment Agency revealed that United Utilities, the company supplying the North West, requested for a drought order to obtain provision from Ennerdale Water to sustain water supply in west Cumbria. It noted that if the dry weather persists, further actions would be needed to improve the dwindling water supply.


Long-term weather forecast expects a dry summer season this year and water companies across the UK are asking their consumers to please save water to avoid interruptions in water supply.







Water, Water Industry News