20 March 2018
20 March 2018,

 Water versus Winter 

Snow has left many without water this month and this summer we are heading into a drought.

The image of Britain always seems to include umbrellas, however this is misleading. London has about the same rainfall as Jerusalem, and Edinburgh the same as Istanbul. The South East is facing water scarcity which has led to the building of a desalination plant on the Thames. Climate change modelling shows it may soon in summers be running at full capacity. So water is precious and scarce. This always seems laughable when it is raining but the last couple of winters have had below average rainfall and this means that there is around a 60% chance of drought this summer.

The lack of water could affect your business as water restrictions hit companies first. The recent snow could give the impression that the melt will replenish the reservoirs and aquifers; however there may well be less in the system than before the recent snow fall. The reason is that the cold weather led to a freeze and the quick thaw led to burst pipes. This was probably avoidable however around the country mains pipes burst and it is likely billions of litres were lost. Burst pipes are often a result of ground heave which is the process where the soil around the pipes shifts when frozen and thawed quickly. This winter, although it felt harsh, is not that unusual but most countries with harder winters do not seem to have the same problem with burst pipes. Ofwat has already initiated an inquiry about how the thaw led to such disruption, with offices, homes and schools left without water, sometimes for a number of days. My daughters were sent home for a couple of days because of lack of pressure leading to no toilets.

The recent problems are a result of climate change as a country we need to realise that we will have major problems with water supply on a regular basis.  Your company should put water supply higher up your risk register.

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