From dry winters to record rainfall

ARLINGTON: Low and high water levels at Arlington resevoir
ARLINGTON: Low and high water levels at Arlington resevoir

Not that anyone needs to be told how wet winter was, but if you do need confirmation look no further than Arlington Reservoir.

As our picture shows the reservoir was virtually empty last winter, but after record rain fall last year it is now almost at full capacity.

This time last year South East Water introduced temporary water use restrictions following two back to back dry winters which left its water reserves at seriously low levels.

The restrictions came into effect on April 5, 2012 after drought was declared in the South East of England, as well as parts of the East Midlands and Eastern England.

However, a year on and following record rainfall in 2012, water levels across the South East have risen dramatically.

Arlington Reservoir is more than 99 per cent full, while the majority of underground water sources are at normal levels, having been topped up during the wet winter months.

Meyrick Gough, water quality and strategy manager at South East Water (SEW), said they were in the opposite position to last year with customers experiencing very difficult conditions because of high levels of rainfall.

He added: “Now that we’ve entered spring, from a water resources point of view we are in a very strong position.”

The firm relies on winter rain to fill the reservoir and top up the groundwater from which it draws 70 per cent of water supplies. Lee Dance, head of water resources and environmental at SEW, said water conservation was a still a key factor despite the reserves at Arlington.

He said: “Last year the reservoirs were at seriously low levels and, with no guarantee of wet weather, we had no option but to introduce temporary water use restrictions. We were thankful to our customers who took the drought seriously and made a real effort to save water.”

He added: “There is one thing we can be sure of and that is that our weather remains unpredictable. That is why we are working hard to ensure we secure water supplies by investing in new resources, installing new pipelines to move water around our network and tackling leaks as quickly as possible.

“Planning the water we need – for both today’s and tomorrow’s customers – is a long term business.”

Plans on how it intends to secure water supplies – whatever the weather - are set to be published by the water firm later this Spring.