Consumers should adapt their behavior to conserve water during dry weather, according to Cranfield University academics.
Limiting the length of the shower or the amount of water in the bath, not leaving the faucet running, and installing water storage devices (which many water companies offer for free) are all effective ways to make a difference.
Some commentators have recently predicted that the UK will experience a drought similar to that of 1976, but Professor Ian Holman, Head of the Center for Water, Environment and Development at Cranfield University, says that is not necessarily the case because of the differences in previous conditions. the summer of 1976.
“The drought of 1976 was the culmination of almost two very dry years. River, groundwater and reservoir levels in the spring of 1976 were lower than at the same time this year. So when the weather is dry and hot this year the same effect on farms and agriculture us, water sources in much of the Midlands, south and east of England are starting from normal conditions for the time of year.
He added: “Compared to 1976, our water supply infrastructure is also better prepared – in particular, the supply network is more connected than in the 1970s, allowing water to be moved more easily to where it is needed.
“Many farmers who irrigate their crops have built reservoirs in their fields since the drought of 1976, which they fill from rivers and aquifers during the winter. However, since the country is more often affected by droughts than floods, the availability of water is often given and this means that there is no culture of saving water as it is.
Climate change projections show that there is an increased risk of extreme weather events such as droughts and heat waves over time, Professor Holman added, and regardless of drought, “individuals and communities should strive to use water as much as possible.”
“We must recognize that water is a precious and scarce natural resource,” he said. “We can also make better use of water resources by reducing leakage and increasing the amount that can be stored in the winter for use in the summer. This could be encouraging homeowners to install waterbutts; providing financial support to farmers to invest in winter storage reservoirs in- farm; or for water companies to invest in new reservoirs.
Tim Hess, Professor of Water and Food Systems at Cranfield University, explained how a potential drought could affect crops and food preparation.
“We had a very dry period until the end of last year in addition to this summer, which means below-average rainfall. So you have a situation where the soil is very dry and the plants are waterlogged, which means lower crop yields. That is particularly worrying at a time when we know that the price of wheat is high.
“For livestock farmers we have less grass growing which means they have to buy more feed – something that is more expensive than normal.
“The projection is for us to experience drier summers with longer dry periods between rainfall events, so we need to be able to adapt so we can deal with these changing weather conditions.”