Measures to combat drought welcomed by NFU
THE NFU has welcomed measures designed to minimise the impacts of potential water shortages this summer.
It follows the publication of the Environment Agency’s (EA) Drought Prospects Report, which sets out the impacts of the drought to date, and provides details of extended restriction actions for water abstractors during spring and summer 2012.
In response, several water companies have issued temporary water use bans across Southern and Eastern parts of England, which will help to conserve available water resources.
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “Most agricultural production in England and Wales is rain-fed, with only one per cent of water resources nationally being taken from ground and surface water sources for agricultural use.
“The NFU is now discussing with water companies how drinking water will continue to be made available for livestock and with the EA on how restrictions on crop irrigation could be phased in to allow advance planning and use of voluntary restrictions wherever possible.”
The Environment Agency’s Drought Prospects report, published today, (Tuesday, March 13) warns the drought could spread as far north as East Yorkshire and as far west as the Hampshire - Wiltshire border, if the dry weather continues this spring. The whole of the south east and East Anglia are already in drought.
The report calls on water companies to follow their drought plans, show that they are reducing leakage from their networks, consider sharing water with neighbouring companies, and encourage their customers to use water wisely now, which will put them in a better position for the summer.
The Agency is also advising farmers to look for ways to share water resources by setting up water abstractor groups and to take steps now to improve water efficiency.
EA chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to meet the challenges of a continued drought. Our report urges water companies, farmers and other businesses to look again at ways to improve short term water storage, share water resources where possible, and reduce the amount they and their customers use.”
The Agency is also working to help farmers top up their storage reservoirs, to ensure there are better supplies for the summer months.
It has introduced a fast track process for farmers to apply to take additional water when river flows are high, and continues to be as flexible as possible around existing regulations to help farmers, who suffer significant impacts in times of drought.