The 2023 Drought in South West England

Since South West Water’s “temporary usage ban” has been extended across the River Tamar to much of North and West Devon we’re extending our coverage of the drought too.

This week’s Environment Agency rainfall summary hasn’t been published yet, but I can assure you that the weather’s been warm and dry. Here’s a distant picture I took of our local Crowdy Reservoir on Sunday 21st May :

Davidstow Moor has dried out, and the water level in the reservoir has started to decline. Here’s the South West Lakes Trust’s report of water levels in Cornwall on the 21st. It also includes Roadford Lake, the largest reservoir in Devon:

The automated rainfall gauge at Colliford also confirms the recent dry spell:

The rain gauge at Roadford tells an almost identical story:

South West Water have just published their weekly reservoir water level graphs. The level in Colliford Lake is still increasing, but is struggling to get above 70% of total net capacity:

As you can see, it has now reached the same level as last year at the same time of year. However there is still a long way to go before the long running “hosepipe ban” is lifted. I assume that Colliford is still being topped up from one or more adjacent ex clay pits. Here’s the pipe from Park Pit, pictured in early March:

Over the border in Devon Roadford Lake is also struggling to reach 70% of capacity, and the water level declined slightly last week:

There’s a very long way to go before this year’s curve reaches last year’s! The water levels in the second largest reservoirs in the two counties have also now started to decrease:

P.S. The Environment Agency’s rainfall and river flow summary for the week ending May 23rd has now been published. It comes as no surprise to discover that it states:

It has been a drier week across the country compared to last week and the driest since February. Rainfall totals ranged from less than 1mm in central and east England to 3mm in south-west England. Rainfall totals for May so far range from 46% of the long term average (LTA) in north-west England to 97% of the LTA in south-west England.

[Edit – June 2nd]

Following the recent warm weather the water level in the largest reservoirs in Cornwall and Devon is now reducing. Here’s South West Water’s graph of the water level in Colliford Reservoir:

Over on the Devon side of the River Tamar the equivalent graph for Roadford Lake looks like this:

We visited Roadford yesterday to record how things looked near what is almost certainly the maximum water level for 2023. Here is what we discovered:

Back here in Davidstow, the water level in Crowdy Reservoir is down to 88% of total net capacity:

[Edit – June 8th]

The Environment Agency’s rainfall and river flow summary for the week ending June 6th has now been published. It reports that:

It has been another very dry week across the whole of the country. Rainfall totals were less than 1mm in the north-east and south-east with the rest of England receiving no rainfall. Rainfall totals for May ranged from 43% of the long term average (LTA) in north-west England to 86% of the LTA in east England:

South-west England achieved 83% of the LTA in May:

South West Water’s graph of the water level in Colliford Reservoir reveals a loss of 1.3% of total net capacity for the week :

Further west, the water level in Stithians Reservoir declined by 5% over a week, although the water level there is still well above the same date last year:

The water level in our local Crowdy Reservoir fell by 6% over the week:

Meanwhile across the River Tamar in West Devon the water level in Roadford Lake fell by 1%, and is currently well below last year’s level on the same date:

Whilst river flow in the Tamar is currently “normal”, flow in the River Torridge is now “below normal”:

[Edit – June 17th]

The Environment Agency’s rainfall and river flow summary for the week ending June 13th reports that:

It has been a wetter week across England as a whole compared to last week. Rainfall totals ranged from 3mm in the north-east and east England to 17mm in central England. Rainfall totals for June so far range from 5% of the long-term average (LTA) in north-east England to 29% of the LTA in central England.

South West England received a mere 4mm of rain. Flow in the River Tamar is now classified as “below normal”:

Water levels in our reservoirs continue to decline, at an increased rate. Colliford Reservoir lost 1.7% of total net capacity over the week:

The apparently erroneous “bump” in South West Water’s water level graph for Stithians Reservoir has been erased:

In Devon, the water level in Roadford Lake declined by 1.2% during the week ending June 11th:

Following our forced eviction from North Cornwall, coverage of the 2023 Drought in South West England continues over in our new home in West Devon:

Is the end nigh for the hosepipe ban in West Devon?

P.S. At long last South West Water have announced the lifting of the hosepipe ban across Cornwall! Much more information can be found over at:

South West Water Announce Lifting of Hosepipe Ban in Cornwall

One Reply to “The 2023 Drought in South West England”

  1. The sun was shining brightly again yesterday evening, so I cycled over the moor to take a closer look at Crowdy Reservoir. Here’s what I discovered:

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