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Drought policy in Wales

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Information on the current water situation, key organisations, legislation, and what you can do to help.

Wales needs to effectively manage our water resources to cope with increasing pressures on our supply caused by an increase in population, changing household demands and climate change.

There is a perception in Wales that our water resources are plentiful. But we are experiencing longer periods of dry weather and less rainfall.

Current position in Wales

Currently, there is no drought in Wales.

We are working with water companies and Natural Resources Wales to monitor the water resources situation in Wales. This will allow us to react appropriately should the situation change. We are also working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to monitor the situation in England and assess any possible impact on Wales.

Key Organisations in Wales

Welsh Government

We are responsible for the legislation on water resources in Wales. This includes legislation on hosepipe bans, drought orders and drought permit.

We deal with drought order applications to Welsh Ministers.

We also work with Natural Resources Wales, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Dee Valley Water and Severn Trent Water to ensure that the situation is monitored closely to protect public supply and also avoid damage to the environment.

Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales has a duty to manage water resources in Wales. They monitors the water resource situation closely to ensure that any future development of our water resources is carried out sustainably and the resource is managed responsibly. They also grant drought permits.

In addition to this, Natural Resources Wales provides advice on the natural environment. It ensures that any impacts of water resources limitations on wildlife and the natural environment are considered. They also advise on any actions that can be taken to lessen these impacts.

Water companies

Water companies have the power to impose temporary restrictions on certain uses of water (also known as hosepipe bans) without the consent of the Welsh Government or the Natural Resources Wales. This power enables them to react quickly to conserve water within their operating areas.

Visit: Consumer Council for Water (external link)

Visit: Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (external link)

Visit: Dee Valley Water (external link)

Visit: Severn Trent Water (external link)

Visit: Waterwise (external link)

Legislation

Temporary restrictions on water usage (hosepipe bans)

Section 36 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 amends Section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991. It covers the water uses that water companies can impose temporary restrictions on to their customers.

This Section is supplemented by The Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010.

Drought permits, drought orders and emergency drought orders

This Guidance for Water Undertakers on how to apply for a drought permit, drought order and emergency drought order has been published jointly by the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, Defra and the Environment Agency.

It is being hosted on the UK Government website (external link).

Drought Permits

If a drought situation continues, water companies may have to take further steps to ensure they can continue to supply their customers.

First, they would apply to Natural Resources Wales for a drought permit to take water from new sources or to alter restrictions on existing licensed water abstractions (where they already have a licence to take water from a source).

Drought permits can only be granted if Natural Resources Wales is satisfied they are needed because of an extended dry period. They are only granted for certain periods and may only be renewed for limited periods.

Drought Orders

In a severe drought, the water company may apply to Welsh Ministers for a drought order. This would give them more permissions than a drought permit and restrict the non-essential use of water. Drought orders are only granted for certain periods and may only be renewed for limited periods.

The Drought Direction 2011 lists the uses of water which can be banned under a drought order.

Drought Plans

The Water Act 2003 makes it a legal requirement for water companies to prepare, maintain and publish drought plans.