Drought permits - filling your reservoirs

To make sure everyone has enough water over the winter and spring, we’re applying to the Environment Agency (EA) for a Drought Permit. This will allow us to release less water than normal from our Upper Derwent Valley reservoirs into the River Derwent over the next few months. Keeping more of it in our reservoirs will help us to serve our customers in the local area.

There won’t be any changes to your water supply. In fact, doing this should help make sure there’s enough for everyone. 

What’s happened?

By Spring this year our reservoirs were full. But since then, we’ve seen the driest six months since 1850. We worked hard to keep everyone’s water flowing, by moving it around the network and fixing burst pipes and leaks quicker than ever. 

Our customers have helped hugely, by reducing their water use. Between us, we’ve kept the water network working through some of the driest and hottest temperatures on record. We haven’t had to announce any hosepipe bans. Thank you to all our customers for helping us with this. 

The situation today

The long dry period has had an impact on our reservoir levels. While we’ve had a bit of rain recently, it’s not enough and the forecast is still looking dry. So we need to ask you to continue the great efforts we saw over summer. 

Please think about how much water you’re using at home. We’re also doing our bit to help and support people reduce their water usage.

What else we’re doing

We know we need to do more in certain places. We’re applying to the EA for a Drought Permit in Derwent Valley in North Derbyshire. It means we can release less water than normal from our reservoirs into the River Derwent and instead keep it to serve our customers in the Midlands. 

This will help us make sure we have enough to last us through this winter and all the way to next summer. We are confident there won’t be any impact to your water supply.

What does this mean for local rivers?

Over the winter, river levels are naturally at their highest anyway. So any impact on rivers will be limited. 

We’ve looked very closely at the River Derwent so we know how it might respond to this temporary change in flow. At the top end of the Derwent River, before it joins the River Wye, changes are likely to be greatest. On average, we expect the depth to be around 10% less in this area. Depending on the shape of the river channel, you may see some changes to depth and width for a time. 

Based on our environmental assessment, we do not believe that there will be harm to wildlife or ecology in the river. However, we will monitor the river closely while the Permit is in place. If we find any significant or unexpected impacts, we’ll be able to act quickly. 

We’re still hopeful there will be more rain through the winter, which will help refill the reservoirs. However, the responsible thing to do now is not to leave anything to chance and make sure we have plenty of water ready for next summer.