Leader: Shortage of water hitting crisis point

Farmers already know about the creeping crisis that is stealthily engulfing Britain. Now the rest of us are beginning to wake up to it.

River levels at Montford Bridge
River levels at Montford Bridge

Farmers already know about the creeping crisis that is stealthily engulfing Britain.

Now the rest of us are beginning to wake up to it.

The recent warm, sunny spell has been very pleasant. It is part of a trend which has seen meagre rainfall, much less than would normally be expected. According to the Environment Agency, Shropshire’s rivers have half as much water flowing through them as in the great drought of 1976.

Flows in the River Severn are the second lowest on record for this time of year.

Look at Shropshire’s rivers and you can see the problem for yourself. The pleasure cruises by the Ironbridge river boat are in danger because of the risk of running aground. The retreating rivers are affecting fish stocks. It is a vicious cycle, because parched land means more demands on river water to compensate for the lack of rain.

It is going to take a prolonged wet spell to get things back to what counts for normal. It is not, though, just a matter of the weather. Shropshire’s rivers, big and small, are being tapped into as water resources on a large scale. Some are a shadow of their former glory because of the level of water abstraction which has helped turn small rivers into mere brooks and streams.

Throw a warm, dry spell into the equation, and this summer we shall see plenty of them reduced to a trickle, with dramatic losses of aquatic life and knock-on effects through nature’s fragile food chain.

The Environment Agency is planning to release groundwater and reservoir water into the Severn to increase flows.

Britain’s traditional self-image as a rainswept country has meant that Britons have mocked the idea of water shortage. But if we can no longer rely on rain, and must learn to manage water like any other precious resource.

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Comments for: "Leader: Shortage of water hitting crisis point"


lack of investment in repairing leeks in the water system, too profit motivated thanks to the sell off of our water companys. Charge the top executives 1p for every litre lost, I am sure this would motivate repairing leeks quicker.


I think you might mean leaks. Leeks are a vetetable.

Rob, Telford

How klever of you to spot that Val...


I'm sure Jeff, with hindsight, realised his error Val. Try not to be too clever. Leeks are not a vetetable. They are a vegetable

Two Tone

Hi Val.

I can't find the wurd VETEABLE in my dicshunary I'm afrade. What does it mean?


You certainly know your onions Jeff, and your leeks.


Nice to know there are some Titmarshes out there.


…and meanwhile the planned expansion of new build residential properties, the need for which is arguable in the first instance, in the Shropshire area will become an even greater ‘drain’ (Ha) on an already threatened commodity.


We are an island surrounded by water, yet there seems to be resistance to desalination plants, other countries use this technology, why not in the UK?


theyre not economic martin, use a fortune in electricity which is expensive and not very green


Also, bottled water being sold abroad. I'm sure that doesn't help. I know water is cyclical and cannot be destroyed as such, but when it is sent abroad, it is gone for ever from the more localised UK water cycle, and I'm sure that doesn't help the situation.


When "Maggi" privatised the water industry she promised that it meant the end of excessive water leaks and under investment. She even gave them an RPI plus price increase to pay for it. What actually happened was that a public service was converted into a private monopoly with the enrichment of share holders and directors. The water companies should be fined for excessive water leaks with price rises limited to CPI minus. That might focus their minds and make them start to properly manage this valuable national resource.


In answer to Martin's question; My understanding is that desalination plants are massively expensive to build and maintain. In addition, there are environmental issues which given our obsession with EU regulations would kill any such project stone dead. Quite how we imagine that we can manage when so many new houses are required to accomodate our burgeoning population, I can't imagine. It's the elephant in the room which Westminster cannot see.

really confused

Water shortage, water shortage...where's me jerrycans?

I'm tipping me petrol out and going to stockpile water now...at least I won't have to queue in the cold for it....


If we had not opened our borders to the million of people that came from the E.U. we would still be OK for water.Think about it.How much does a single person use per day?


buy water butts people - they save you money

severn trent sell them buy one get one free and the council do too i think


OMG dont tell francis maude or there will be panic and bottled water and beer will sell out



In September 1976 some idiot said that it would need to rain from September until Christmas to fill up the dams, if I remember correctly, it rained until the following April and the farmers complained as they could not get on their land.

Maybe it will start raining in July, so that England has the advantage at the Olympics.

eva land

Our so called 'burgeoning' population is the timebomb of too many elderly with not enough working population to support.

Many people are choosing Shropshire as a place to retire.

Perhaps Shrewsbury should be ahead in the game and twin with Forch near Zurich in Switzerland rather than Zutphen.