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:
As our regular reader(s) will be aware, we have been closely following the water level in Crowdy Reservoir since the locked down spring of 2020. We also started following the water level of Colliford Lake very closely in the early summer of 2022 and during the subsequent drought. Cornwall is still subject to a “hosepipe ban“, officially termed a “temporary use ban”.
More recently we have been astonished to watch the graph of Colliford water storage on South West Water’s web site as the water level in by far the largest of Cornwall’s reservoirs failed to reach even 50% of total net capacity so far this year. By last weekend it had even started to fall:
This morning we went to see for ourselves what a half full reservoir looks like. Here is some of what we discovered, starting with evidence of previous human activity in the vicinity of what used to be Menniridden, recently uncovered for an extended period by the currently abnormally low water level in the reservoir:
Here’s the first in a series of videos we recorded. This one starts with Kasia wandering across the vast exposed “beach”, shot from on top of Colliford Dam:
There ultimately proved to be two official heatwaves in August, but Autumn now seems to have arrived in North Cornwall. It is currently raining, but it remains to be seen how quickly the decline in Cornish reservoir levels can be reversed.
The water level at Colliford reduced by 3.1% of its total net capacity last week. Stithians fell by 3.2%. Our local Crowdy Reservoir declined by 2% over the week and Upper Tamar reservoir is down to 24% of its total net capacity.
As the weeks have passed the answer to that question seems increasingly likely to be “Yes”. Hence we’ll begin August 2022 with the current water levels of Cornish reservoirs provided by the South West Lakes Trust:
As you can see the water levels in both Colliford and Stithians reservoirs are already below their lowest levels last year. Colliford is also well below its level at the beginning of August 1995, a particularly dry year for Cornwall and other parts of the United Kingdom.
On my habitual Covid-19 lockdown permitted cycle ride across Davidstow Moor earlier today I glanced in the direction of Roughtor and noticed something strange. I cycled across the moor, parked my bike by the fence, hopped over the stile and walked to the edge of Crowdy reservoir.
Here is what I discovered:
The part of Crowdy Marsh I crossed wasn’t marshy. What’s more the water level in the reservoir seemed very low for the time of year, particularly given the winter we’ve just experienced!