UK heatwave: How to conserve water in case of drought

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Families in the UK are being urged to save water, as very high temperatures and a prolonged dry spell have resulted in a nosedive in reservoir levels.

Water firms have issued advice to take measures such as showering less, in a bid to conserve water in case a drought occurs this summer.

Reservoir water levels have hit record lows, with some lower than recorded during the scorching summer of 1995.

On Saturday (17 July), Affinity Water said “urgent action” was needed in Essex and Hertfordshire to “conserve reservoir supplies for everyone, whilst Yorkshire Water said on Tuesday (1 July) it can’t rule out restrictions on water usage as reservoir levels are low.

Last week, South West Water warned residents in Devon and Cornwall to cut down on shower time and stop using hose pipes as it wants people to save around five litres of water per day.

It comes as the UK is currently in the middle of a prolonged heatwave, with temperatures expected to hit extremes of 40C on Monday (18 July) and Tuesday (19 July).

Follow the latest updates on the UK heatwave

Little to no rainfall is forecast for the rest of this week, until the second half of next week.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency told The Independent: “Dry weather this year has led to receding river flows across much of England and reservoir levels falling across Yorkshire, central and south west England.

“We are working with water companies and other abstractors to monitor water resources and ensure the needs of water users and the environment are met.

“We can all do our part to use water wisely, reduce our usage and manage this precious resource,” they added.

Here’s how you can save water as the heatwave continues:

Take a quick shower instead of a bath

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(Getty Images)

You can conserve more water by taking a shower instead of a bath. Having a shorter shower will also reduce the amount of water you use.

Lisa Gahan, South West Water’s director of water resources, said people can save six litres of water if they spend just one minute less in the shower.

Turn off taps

Turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, shave, or wash your hands can save up to six litres of water per minute, according to the Environment Agency.

Install a water-saving device in your toilet

Older toilet cistern models can use as much as 13 litres per flush, whilst more modern models use six litres per flush or less.

The Environment Agency recommends installing a water-saving device if you have an older cistern.

The low-cost device, which is also known as a cistern displacement device, is a bag that you can put into the cistern. It fills with water and helps reduce the amount of water used for flushing the toilet.

Some water companies will send you one for free if you live within the right catchment area and request it, such as Southern Water and Northumbrian Water.

Ditch the hosepipe

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Use a watering can instead of a hosepipe to avoid wasting water.

South West Water also recommended watering your plants in the morning or evening so it takes longer for the water to evaporate and your plants can make the most of it.

If you can, install a water butt to capture rain. One water butt can hold enough rainwater to fill a watering can 25 times, which will help you avoid switching on the tap or hose to water your plants.

Avoid watering your lawn

A brown lawn might look a bit sorry for itself, but the alternative could mean wasting thousands of litres of water.

The Environment Agency said: “Watering the lawn with mains water is wasteful. Watering grass encourages shallow roots, which can make grass more vulnerable to drought.

“Grass is hardy and will grow back, even if it turns brown and is not watered during dry periods.”

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