National Drought Group – EA Chairman’s Statement – January 2019

Environment Agency: Published 22 January 2019

The National Drought Group (NDG) brings together government departments, water companies, environmental groups and others. The role of the group is to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of dry weather, to coordinate action to maintain water supplies, consider water users and protect the environment. The National Drought Group (NDG) met on Monday 21 January, chaired by Harvey Bradshaw, Executive Director at the Environment Agency, to assess the water resource situation and actions being taken to reduce risk for summer 2019.


Wet weather in November and December 2018 brought a welcome end to six consecutive months of below average rainfall in England. This winter refill started slightly later than usual but the rain brought relief for many parts of England, with the exception of eastern England. Despite this improvement and a slightly improved water resources situation compared to this time last year, the picture in England is not yet back to normal.

January has been dry, with just 4% of the expected (long-term average) rainfall in the first 15 days of the month, resulting in most rivers flows being very low for the time of year. There are still several reservoirs below normal in central England, groundwater in aquifers stretching from Oxford to Cambridge have also not recovered. The Met Office 3 month outlook shows a slightly higher chance of drier weather than wet during January – March. If the coming months are dry, water available for spray irrigation by farmers may be limited during the summer. If the dry weather continues it will potentially have a significant impact on wetlands and the wildlife they support including returning migratory birds due to an inadequate mix of habitats e.g. mudflat, wet grassland, open water. Click here to read more

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