Environment Agency grants four drought permits to United Utilities

The Environment Agency has granted four drought permits to United Utilities and continues to consider a fifth application.

The granted permits relate to the Windemere reservoir, the Delph and Rivington reservoirs and the Scales borehole.

  • Windermere – the permit enables United Utilities to take additional water from the lake at times when flows are sufficiently high. This is to support the recovery of storage in Haweswater, a key source of drinking water for the people of the North West.

  • Delph reservoir in Bolton and Rivington reservoir in Lancashire – these two permits will allow United Utilities to reduce the ‘compensation flow’ it has a legal requirement to release downstream. This will allow more water will be kept in the reservoirs for public water supplies. The Environment Agency said great care will be taken to ensure any reduction in river flows does not harm to the downstream environment.

  • Scales borehole – this permit will allow the company to take more water over the year, so it can abstract at its daily rate for longer. This relieves pressure on the surface water sources in north Cumbria.

The Agency said it was considering United’s fifth permit application, for Ullswater in Cumbria.

The permits apply for a limited period only and have been issued in case they are needed later in the year to maintain water supplies. This follows low rainfall in the area: the North West has received 132mm of rain which is 56% of the long term average. Forecasts suggest there may be continued lower than average rainfall into autumn.

If the company wants to use the permits before the end of September, its drought plan requires it to introduce a hosepipe ban to help reduce demand. United Utilities called off the hosepipe ban due to come into force on 5 August, in light of improved conditions.