Region’s river officially in drought

River Derwent
River Derwent

A RIVER which runs through our area is one of several in Yorkshire suffering from low water levels, causing the Environment Agency (EA) to declare the region officially in drought this week.

The drought conditions apply to catchments of the Rivers Derwent, which runs through Sutton-on-Derwent, Elvington, Kexby and Stamford Bridge, as well as the Rivers Don, Hull and Rother.

Yorkshire Water does not currently anticipate any impact on the water supply but has said it is continually reviewing the situation.

The EA has expressed its concern about the effect of the drought on the environment.

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Ben Hughes, the EA’s drought manager for Yorkshire, said: “The dry spell is forecast to continue over the next few months. We have been working with Yorkshire Water and it is not anticipated that there will be an impact on public water supplies at this stage.” The EA expects to see lower river levels and some small springs and streams drying up, which will affect people who use those waterways, as well as fish and other wildlife.

Mr Hughes said: “Our job is to balance the needs of people, the environment, agriculture and industry so that there is enough water to go round. Everyone has a part to play in making sure that we use water efficiently and even small changes can make a big difference to the overall picture.”

The decision to declare a drought was taken after several months of below-average rainfall combined with a forecast that the dry spell will continue over the next few months.

The lack of rain has caused low groundwater levels and low levels of water in all the affected rivers.

An EA rain gauge near the River Rye in the Derwent catchment has had six consecutive months of below average rainfall.

Meanwhile, in the Hull and the Don catchment, rainfall figures show it is the second driest 12 months on record since 1910.

This winter the EA in Yorkshire took the unusual step of restricting the amount of water which could be used in some areas, and if the drier conditions continue, more people may be affected to protect the environment.

“We are appealing to all water abstractors, including farmers and businesses, to look for ways to share and make the best use of a limited water resource,” Mr Hughes said.

The EA wants people to work closely with it to help manage the situation effectively.

Matt Thompson, of Yorkshire Water, said: “We continue to work hard to manage and balance our stocks of water, particularly in the east of the region where borehole levels are 20 per cent lower than would normally be expected for this time of year.“

“To support what we’re doing, we’d encourage customers to continue to do all they can to conserve water and use only what they need.”

The news comes after the Government’s announcement to launch the “Love your River” campaign, which is aimed at inspiring people to look after their rivers by using water wisely.