Water Firms Confident of Defying the Lack of Rain

Article excerpt

Rainfall continues to be way below average. The rivers are running low and slow, and the underground water table levels have sunk far below normal levels. But the water companies remain confident of getting through the summer without any severe restrictions.

Since February last year, there has been rainfall above the long-term average for just three months over England and Wales as a whole - in September, December and this February. November had exactly the average and every other month has had below the mean.

A dry June is following a dry April and May. So, with such shortfalls, and after last summer's widespread drought, why no severe shortages and water restrictions this year? Because since late last summer the worst- affected water companies have carried out emergency engineering works and taken extra water from rivers and boreholes to avoid the kind of public relations disaster that engulfed Yorkshire Water - which, at one point, was threatening to cut off entire cities for 24 hours at a stretch.

The water companies' total investment in boosting supplies, opening pinch- points and improving connections and flexibility in their limited regional grids has run to pounds 350m, according to the Water Services Association, which represents nine of the "big ten" regional companies.

They have also accelerated their work on cutting mains leakage, which was embarrassingly high for several companies. …