To understand drought, we need to know how much we consume, where it comes from, what happens when it does not rain enough and how our supplies of water are normally recharged.
- It is hard to imagine that each and every day, more than 17 billion litres of water goes in to the UK mains water supply.
- It serves the needs of more than 60 million consumers across UK households and businesses.
- On average, each of us uses 150 litres each day.
- The water comes from naturally occurring underground stores (called aquifers), rivers and from reservoirs. The 17+ billion litres flows in to our supply, whether or not there is any rain to replace it.
Impacts of low rainfall
- When dry spells continue for long periods, the balance between water used and water replenished gets more and more unequal. The environment essentially becomes water stressed.
- Winter, when there is less in the way of plants and vegetation to soak up the falling rain, is the key time for water resources to recover and return to normal levels.
Understanding groundwater drought
- With the volume of rainfall needed to restore water resources after long periods, severe groundwater droughts can continue through summers that have well above average rainfall.
- It can feel counter-intuitive, but rain can be streaming down our windows and yet water resources can still be suffering. After not being re-filled for long periods of time, it then takes long periods of time for them to return to normal.
- With so many billions of litres of water needed each and every day, people generally recognise that a few days rain or a few intense showers just won't do the job.