PLANS to sell Birmingham’s water are proceeding even though the Environment Agency today announced that the Midlands is officially in drought.
The region has been hit by the driest year on record, a second winter of below-average rainfall and only 40 per cent of average rainfall over the last two months.
The drought applies to Birmingham, the Black Country and the entire West Midlands region, also covering Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The South East, Anglia and parts of Yorkshire are already in drought.
Last week water company Severn Trent said it was considering selling water to the parched east of the country. Under the deal 30 million litres of raw water per day – enough to supply 100,000 homes in the Anglian Water region – could be transferred 80 miles from Birmingham to Gainsborough for use by Anglian Water.
In the wake of the Environment Agency announcement a spokesman said there was no change to the plans: “We are still predicting no restrictions on water use in the region and our negotiations with Anglian are continuing.”
Paul Crockett, Midlands drought manager, said: “The whole of the Midlands is now in drought, reflecting the impact of the extremely dry last 18 months on the environment.
“We are already seeing early impacts on the environment and a dry summer will make this worse.”
He added: “The amount of water we use has a direct effect on the amount of water available in rivers and for wildlife.
“River levels are already very low for this time of year and we expect to see some drying up, which will affect people who use those waterways, as well as fish and other wildlife”
Reduced river flow, low water levels and higher water temperatures can cause problems for wildlife, particularly fish and wading birds.
The Environment Agency says it could lead to the loss of valuable habitats. But while environmentalists fear the drought will take its toll on wildlife and wetlands, water suppliers, including Severn Trent, say they don’t anticipate any impact on the public water supply.
Severn Trent says it’s not imposing a hosepipe ban, but will be continually reviewing the situation.
Four Midlands rivers recorded the lowest monthly average flows on record during March.
Although we have seen more rain so far in April, experts say it will take months of sustained rainfall to improve underground water and river levels. Birmingham’s water comes entirely from the Elan Valley in Wales.
The Environment Agency is appealing to the public to use water wisely and report any environment incidents by calling 0800 807060.