As England enters the autumn, the National Drought Group met to reiterate the importance of all sectors continuing to plan and invest for future droughts.

Experts are pushing for more investment now to ensure England is in the best possible position ahead of future droughts, the National Drought Group heard last week (13 September).

The Group is taking proactive steps now, while water supply is stable, to ensure the preservation of vital water resources – with government, conservation experts and water companies gathering to discuss how we can best ensure the needs of the public, farmers, industry, nature and wildlife are met.

Chaired by the Environment Agency’s Water Management and Investment Deputy Director Richard Thompson, the meeting discussed the ongoing challenge of securing England’s water supply in the face of a growing population, urbanisation and climate change.

National Drought Group members heard that:

  • It is vital that we prepare and plan for severe droughts so that we are ready for any eventuality.
  • The wet summer means that water resources are in a generally healthy position as we go into the autumn.
  • Recent hot weather has meant river flows have fallen and some water companies have reported increases in demand for water. The heatwave reminds us that it is important for everyone to use water wisely at all times, not just during droughts.
  • Smart meters can provide a raft of benefits to help customers understand their water usage and help water companies manage, monitor and forecast demand for water more effectively. Water companies’ draft water resources management plans showed that they plan to increase smart metering to nearly 50% of homes by 2040.
  • The Environment Agency and Defra emphasised the need for planning for all droughts, including severe droughts. Despite the wetter weather over the summer, the Environment Agency and all sectors continue to prepare for all weather eventualities, both in the short and longer term.

The National Drought Group (NDG) is made up of senior decision-makers from the Environment Agency, government, water companies and key representative groups. Water Minister Rebecca Pow also joined this week’s meeting.

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