It never fails to amaze me what you can find with a bit of digging on the Internet. I was looking for reservoir levels from around the country and although most Water Companies do maintain a web page to indicate what kind of reserves they currently had, a number didn’t, notably Welsh, Northumbria and Yorkshire Water. But all of them, well at least the ones in England, are required to upload monthly situation reports of the state of the reservoirs that they oversee and maintain to the www.gov.uk website. The next couple of images (fig 1 & 2) are one’s that I’ve copied out of one of those situation reports, and show some climate graphics that the Met Office generate on behalf of these private companies – I wonder who pays for it? Silly question, we do of course.
Figure 1 – Courtesy of the EA and the NCIC at the Met Office
I realise that it’s been dry in the southwest over the last year, but the values on the maps (fig 1) did take me by surprise. The next graphic is also very informative splitting England and Wales into a series of weekly rainfall maps (fig 2) which at a glance show you what’s going on across the country. The question that immediately springs to my mind, is why aren’t they available in the climate pages of the Met Office website? The statistics look like they are generated from Weather Radar images, very nice.
Figure 2 – Courtesy of the EA and Met Office
Theses are the reservoir levels from some of the Water companies around the country.
Poor graphic with little precision (fig 3) – water levels look fairly respectable for one of the driest regions in the UK though.
Nice graph, perfick as Pa Larkin would have said (fig 4). Bewl Water reservoir is the largest stretch of open water in the South East of England, so 58% full in mid-January is not great news for the southeast if the tendency for anticyclonic weather persists into the summer.
South West Water
Great website, and an even more perfect graph (fig 5). Reservoirs are just like giant rainfall gauges really, and why statistics aren’t used more for climatological studies I just don’t know, lets face it many have been there since Victorian times. We meter what goes down the pipe and out of the reservoir, and we continually measure the depth of water in so know fairly accurately what’s coming in from the surrounding hills. In many ways they’re a much better ‘gauge’ (pardon the pun) than a five-inch copper gauge will ever be, because the catchment area of the reservoir is so vast, which should make them more representative and sensitive to each passing shower. I suppose the big unknown is how much water is lost to evaporation, especially in the summer.
Looking at this graph (fig 5), I’m slightly worried about the chances of a drought this year in the southwest, although our water here in the part of mid-Devon that I live is extracted out of the River Exe, which in the last 14 years has never let us down, or should that be left us dry.
A basic table of general reservoir levels grouped into regional areas and updated weekly. It wouldn’t have killed them I would have thought, to have produced a 12 month graph of those weekly values for each region to make a visit to their web page a little more worthwhile. It’s interesting to note that after the devastating heavy rains of last Winter, some regions are at less than 70% capacity.
Perhaps it’s because they’ve got so much of the stuff, they don’t feel the need to let people how much they’ve got, or perhaps they don’t know themselves. I can’t find any information on their website about reservoir levels, let me know if you do.
Similarly to Welsh Water, Yorkshire Water think they have no need to inform anyone how much water that are storing up on our behalf, or they simply just have too many reservoirs to bother. I can’t find any information on their website about reservoir levels either, let me know if you do.
The one thing that strikes me as I knock out this article, is that the more water you receive and the more reservoirs that you seem to have as a water company, the less you care about letting people know exactly what you actually have in them. That’s just out-of-date thinking and has to change eventually I would have thought, because freshwater is a scarce resource.
In Scotland it appears that Scottish Water (don’t you just love their logo) defer all the monitoring of rivers, lochs and reservoirs to Scottish Environment Protection Agency [SEPA], which is not a bad idea. Having lived in Scotland for a number of years, I know a lot of drinking water is extracted from rivers rather than reservoirs. I don’t know for sure but a lot of water away from the central belt must come from freshwater lochs. Glasgow must surely take water from Loch Lomond, and I wonder where Inverness gets its drinking water from?
The SEPA site is just great, you can monitor just about any river or body of water from this one site. It’s very similar in fact to the Environment Agency in England and Wales, but as far as the EA site goes it’s just for monitoring river levels in the event of flooding and not reservoir levels.