Drought fears worsen despite wettest April on record

By Chris Willmott 03/05 Updated: 09/05 10:15

Buy photos » A car in the flooded ford at Barston. Photo by Jamie Gray 18.012.021.sol.jg5

PEOPLE could be forced into the streets to get their water unless the wet weather continues - that is the stark warning from Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman despite the wettest April for over 100 years and a weekend of rain and wind which battered the borough.

The Meriden MP said that while it was most unlikely drought-affected areas would need to use standpipes this year, another dry winter could make it more likely for 2013.

Standpipes - taps attached to water pipes in the street after the supply to houses is cut - were last used in the heatwave of 1976.

But the measures could be a reality once more.

Mrs Spelman said: "Whereas it's most unlikely we'd have standpipes this year, if we have another dry winter that becomes more likely."

She added that the Government had seen the drought crisis coming and had a contingency plan in place which included temporary restrictions on non-essential use of water in a domestic setting - such as hosepipe bans - which were needed to avoid stricter restrictions in the future.

She also said that water companies needed to be encouraged to reduce leakages and had been instructed to do so.

April's rainfall has topped up desperately dry reservoirs and rivers - many of which have broken their banks and flooded the surrounding areas as pictured.

But even after the deluge, water company bosses are sticking to their appeals for people to conserve as much water as possible and are maintaining - and increasing - drought status for much of the country.

Severn Trent's Water resources manager, Marcus O’Kane said: “Our reservoirs are looking very healthy now, with most over 95 per cent.

“The rain has really helped to slow demand and provide some short term relief, but it will take time and sustained rain to undo two dry years."

He added that Severn Trent didn't currently have any restrictions on water use in the area and wasn't expecting any this year.

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