Experts have urged individuals and water companies to focus on preserving water now in order to get ahead of future dry spells, following mixed weather over the past couple of months.

The National Drought Group (NAG) met yesterday (Monday, April 24) and discussed new ways that water companies could be resilient to drought, and actions that could be taken in the farming sector to improve drought resilience, secure future water availability and support food security

The group, which is made up of senior decision-makers from the Environment Agency, government, the Met Office, water companies and key farming and environmental groups, has highlighted the importance on not relying solely on weather to keep drought at bay.

It said that recent weather – the driest February in 30 years and the wettest March in 40 years – is evidence of this.

Environment Agency executive director and NDG chair John Leyland commented:

“Whilst water levels have improved across most of the country, a dry February followed by an particularly wet March has highlighted that we cannot rely on the weather alone to preserve our most precious resource ahead of summer.

“This is why the Environment Agency, water companies and our partners continue to take action to ensure water resources are in the best possible position both for the summer and for future droughts.

“We all owe it to the environment and wildlife, to continue to use water carefully to protect our precious rivers, lakes and groundwater.”

NDG members also heard about different farm-related measures the Environment Agency is undertaking. These include extending its use of technology, such as eAlerts, to share abstraction notices with farmers more quickly and easily.

While this technology is currently used by six Environment Agency operational areas, it will be rolled out across the country.

The agency is also using satellite data to assess the moisture content of crops and soil, which can be compared with any irrigation restrictions in the area.

This may indicate whether or not abstractors are working within their licence conditions and assist the agency with compliance checks, which are done to protect both users’ water rights and protect the water environment.

The water sector discussed its works to learn from previous droughts to inform future responses to better manage the demand for water.