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:
Despite the very wet Autumn here in the wild and woolly West Country, South West Water still have a “hosepipe ban” in place across Cornwall. The automated rainfall gauge 49104 at Colliford Lake reveals that there has been very little rainfall in the area for the last three weeks:
As a consequence of that, the water level in Cornwall’s largest reservoir is now still below 50% and decreasing:
As part of South West Water’s continued investment in water resilience across the region, the company is today applying for a permit to unlock supplies from a new source in Cornwall.
Hawks Tor was a redundant china clay pit on Bodmin Moor purchased by South West Water in March 2022, the brownfield site has been converted into a water source and should be supplying customers this month.
This will be the first reservoir brought online by any water company in the country during the ongoing drought, using the latest technology to secure supplies in the short term and provide greater longer term resilience.
Susan Davy, CEO of Pennon Group which owns South West Water, said: “We continue to deliver on our long-standing commitment to investing in our region’s water resources, building capacity where it is needed most and ensuring long-term water resilience across the region. Having only acquired the site a matter of months ago, Hawks Tor should be supplying customers in November. We Continue to take early and proactive actions to ensure the security of water supply for our region during the current drought and into the future.”
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.