With drought declared and flash flood warnings in place across the UK, many people will be wondering what the short and long term effects of drought could be.


Droughts are a relatively common feature of the weather in the United Kingdom, with one around every 5–10 years on average. But this number has significantly grown since the early 1900s. These droughts are usually during the summer, when a blocking high causes hot, dry weather for an extended period, drying out rivers and streams across the country, with many not returning to full capacity of waterflow at all.

Across UK and Europe last summer, we saw weather like never before: heatwaves, flash floods and drought in the space of a few weeks. This proves that droughts and weather conditions can vary in their characteristics. All types of drought cause issues across all sectors, with impacts extending to the ecosystem, agriculture and the economy of the whole country in severe cases of drought. Not only does drought endanger wildlife, but it can leave these nature reserves at risk of never returning to their original state. The south of the country usually suffers most, as it has the highest population (and therefore demand) and the lowest average precipitation per year, which is even lower in a drought.

As of March 2019, according to the Environment Agency, due to projected population growth and the impact of climate change, England’s anticipated demand for water will exceed its supply around the year 2045. Compared to other countries, the United Kingdom definition of a drought is much less severe. In Libya and other countries within Africa, a drought is usually only recognised after two years without any measurable rainfall. If this were to happen in the United Kingdom, the consequences would be disastrous.

Several notable droughts in the United Kingdom have occurred in recorded history, some of these in the 21st century. They can be divided into two categories, the meteorological drought where little or no rain fell over a relatively short period and the hydrological drought, where below average rainfall has occurred over an extended period.


What Future Impact Will Drought’s Have On The UK?

United Kingdom droughts have similar consequences to other droughts elsewhere in the world. The first of these is river and reservoir levels begin to drop as rainfall fails to counteract evaporation. With this, comes the need to provide water pumping solutions which involve the transference of water in a controlled manner.

We understand that each stream diversion is different, from physical characteristics through to pumping volumes based on extraction consents. Pump Supplies have experience of providing the right solution to meet the consent specification.

Our fleet is the largest electric submersible fleet in the UK– so we can choose from a variety of different pumps to provide the absolute best solution available. Not only that, but we’ve got all the necessary pipework and accessories available to suit almost every application, backed up with full teams of installation engineers providing 24/7 round the clock support. Most recently we have added electric submersible filter pumps fully compliant with the EU Eel regulations.

The Environment Agency has declared drought in parts of the southwest, southern and central England and all of eastern England, including north and south London, with us working on multiple projects alongside the agency.

For now, the EA has said that ‘essential supplies of water are safe’. But water sustains life and we can all play our part in saving precious supplies until the reservoirs recover. That might not happen until we have a sustained period of rainfall, or ‘meaningful rainfall’. This is because the ground is now so dry, it will take more than a few thundery showers for the water to penetrate the earth.

Although we do have enough water for now, the word drought might sound worrying. If you are asked to limit your water use by your local water company, make sure it doesn’t impact your health or the health of others.

  • Keep up your daily hygiene to avoid the spread of infectious disease.
  • Look after your mental health – many people rely on water supplies for their businesses as well as at home so this might be worrying.
  • Drink plenty, especially during the heatwave.