The Waterpocalypse: Drought

Emily Cooper


This World Water Week, we're investigating four of the most serious threats facing water across the globe: the Four Horses of the Waterpocalypse. Drought is a natural phenomenon, occurring as a result of high temperatures and low rainfall. However, drought has increased in both severity and frequency in recent years—largely due to climate change and population growth. Due to our growing water requirements as a society, water is now being taken from our rivers and lakes at a completely unsustainable rate. This can have catastrophic implications for the affected ecosytems: the concentration of pollutants increases, harming flora and fauna; fish are prevented from following their natural migration routes; and ecosystems fail to function. Previously, drought was seen as a problem only affecting arid countries. Now, however, it is a truly global issue - including the UK, a nation renowned for its rainy weather. It only takes a few days without rainfall for our rivers to dry up completely. This is a side-effect of constant abstraction; even when rainfall is low, we keep on using lots of water, and our rivers cannot cope. Drought Credit: Charles Rangeley-Wilson

What are Rivers Trusts doing?

In order to prevent and lessen the effects of drought, it’s important that we store water in periods of high rainfall. Wetlands are a fantastic, natural way of doing this—as well as providing a whole host of other benefits! Last year, Rivers Trusts created or improved 73 wetlands, enabling our ecosystems to better store water and providing them with greater resilience against drought. Watch this video about this fantastic constructed wetland created by Norfolk Rivers Trust:
Addressing water use is also an important factor in reducing drought. The agricultural industry is one of the greatest consumers of water, which is why Rivers Trusts employ 51 farm advisors. Through this scheme, farmers are advised on how to best manage their water supplies and reduce water waste. Here's how Ribble Rivers Trust are working with farmers:
Through our Water Stewardship programme, Rivers Trusts are working with businesses and their supply chains to sustainably improve water management. In addition, earlier this year, we joined 12 organisations to call for the Government and Water Companies to introduce hosepipe bans and other water restrictions immediately to avert fish kills and longer-term environmental damage.

What can you do?

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