Depleted Water Reserves in South West England


I have been a little concerned recently about my woodland pond. It is not stream-fed, and the water level always varies a little with the seasons – but it has never been as low as this during winter months.

I am aware that rainfall in my area has been below average over the winter, so I thought I would investigate the state of water reserves for the south west to see if there might be any more general issues going forward.

I consulted the web site of my local water authority at:

ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 01 13.06

Here, I found some data that might be of use in the classroom when teaching about water supplies, local water demands, or climate change. I was not surprised to see that current water levels in local reservoirs  are well below last year’s – and also well below 1995, which was considered a very dry year.

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 01 13.07

Some individual reservoirs are showing low capacity for this time of year, eg the largest storage reservoir in my area – at Roadford – is currently only 67% full:

ScreenHunter_03 Feb. 01 13.07

ScreenHunter_05 Feb. 01 13.08

ScreenHunter_06 Feb. 01 13.18I also checked out a weekly report produced by the Environment Agency, which gives a really detailed summary of regional water supplies, rainfall distribution, and river flows:

ScreenHunter_07 Feb. 01 13.19

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 01 13.07

It is interesting to see from the main graph on the water authority site that the reservoirs do start to fill in the first few months of the year, rise to maximum capacity in the spring, and then slowly start to empty as the year goes on.


As I write this, snow is falling – following some sustained rainfall over the last few days. Perhaps this is the start of an upturn in the capacity line on the graph? Consequently, we might have sufficient water stored to cope with another dry summer and demand from growing numbers of visiting tourists – but most important of all, it might mean my pond will top up again!


About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
This entry was posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Physical World, Teachers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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