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Yorkshire Water to open up water resources data

With the summer's unusually dry weather continuing into the winter months, Yorkshire Water has announced it is to become the first water company to regularly publish its full data on the region's water resources to allow customers to see for themselves how dry weather and increased demand are having an impact.

Alongside publishing the data, Yorkshire Water is to team up with the Environment Agency to run a new campaign based on the information, which aims to help Yorkshire residents make more informed choices about their water use. 

Recent customer research by Yorkshire Water shows that customers are more likely to think about their water use and change their habits when they feel they are being given honest information about water resources and that they strongly preferred being provided with information and being asked to play their part in conserving water, compared to the possibility of enforced restrictions.

The water resources data, which is generated by Yorkshire Water and normally only shared with the Environment Agency, includes detailed information on reservoir, river and groundwater levels, customer demand, rainfall and the outputs of the company’s water treatment works.

A customer-friendly version will be available on the Yorkshire Water website and the full report will be published through Data Mill North as part of Yorkshire Water’s open data initiative.

The data shows Yorkshire has experienced below-average rainfall in five of the last six months to the end of October, with June being the driest month at just over 30 per cent of the long-term average. A dry summer would not be too unusual, but the dry spell has continued through the autumn and winter. The figures also show a significant peak in demand for water during the summer with an increase of up to 200 million litres per day, which is more than the daily demand of a city the size of Leeds.

As a result, Yorkshire Water’s reservoir stocks currently stand at 56 per cent below the level normally expected at this time of year and meaning work is required to ensure that water resources can recover over the winter.

The dry weather has also impacted Yorkshire Water’s network of pipes, as increased ground movement from the ground drying out has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in the number of repairs needed to burst pipes.

Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint said: "Throughout this year we have been sharing tips on how to use water wisely and we saw a great response from customers. However, we feel that for us to really be able to have the conversation with customers about their use of water we need to be really clear with them about the current situation.

"We hope that making our full water situation report available will allow customers to use the information to make their own decisions about the action they can take to conserve water at home."

The newly published information will be used by Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency as part of a pilot campaign, which could help lead the way in changing how the water industry approaches conversations with customers about water resources.

Katharine Smith, EA area manager, said: “We encourage everyone to follow advice on saving water from their water company and use water wisely because this will help protect the environment and conserve water in reservoirs.”

In addition to working with customers to reduce demand for water, Yorkshire Water is also engaging with the Environment Agency to manage water resources in a bid to ensure stocks recover as much as possible over the winter.

Drought permits will be submitted for some of the region's key rivers and reservoirs. If granted, the permits would allow Yorkshire Water to reduce the amount of water released from reservoirs to support river levels during the winter months. This would allow reservoirs to refill during what will hopefully be the wetter winter months allowing resources to go into 2019 in the best position possible.

Author: Robin Hackett, Deputy Editor, WWT and WET News
Topic: Data, IT & Communications , Water Resource Management
Tags: Yorkshire Water , environment agency , Data , water resource management

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