Water resources

Find out about the current status of our water resources, including groundwater, reservoir and rainfall levels.

Latest water resources update

Updated 19 August 2022

Around 75% of the water we supply is from groundwater sources, with 25% of water coming from reservoirs.

Our groundwater and reservoir levels are below average, as expected at this time of year, but we have no plans to introduce a hosepipe ban.

Here’s a summary of the situation in the Wessex Water supply region. 

Groundwater and reservoir levels

  • We’ve had the driest start to the year since 1976 and over the last 12 months, only 73% of long-term average rainfall.
  • Groundwater resources are below average but still above the levels of the 1976 drought.
  • Reservoir storage is 56% of total capacity.

Demand for water and reducing leakage

  • Demand for water peaked on 11 August 2022, but is still less than in previous dry periods. This is largely due to the continued reduction of leakage which came down by 15% between 2017/18 and 2020/21 – among the best in the industry
  • Demand for water reduced by 70 megalitres per day in the week commencing 15 August 2022 compared with the week commencing 8 August 2022.
  • Around a quarter of leakage now comes from customers’ own pipes and within our network, it is almost entirely small leaks and weeping joints. We fix most of these leaks the same day.
  • We now put less water into supply than we did 20 years ago and leakage has reduced by 29% over the same period.

Helping low river levels

  • We’ve invested £230 million in an integrated water supply grid which enables us to move water more flexibly around our network to where it is needed. It allowed us to reduce abstraction from chalk streams.
  • Through our stream support initiative we are effectively ‘topping up’ rivers with water from underground sources. Stream supports are helping to improve river flows in parts of Wiltshire and Dorset. 

No plans for a hosepipe ban 

  • There are currently no plans for a hosepipe ban in our region – the last one was in 1976.
  • We are unusual in that 75% of our water is groundwater and only 25% surface water from reservoirs. This contrasts with the national picture where only about 30% comes from groundwater.
  • Groundwater is more resilient so providing we get 80% of normal winter rain, we will not have any problems next year.
  • We have been able to maintain supplies for customers, while also protecting the environment.

What we can all do to help during the dry period

Please use water responsibly for the benefit of everyone and the environment. To help, here’s some water saving tips. You can also order free water saving devices for your home.

Types of water sources

Around 97% of the water on Earth is salt water and the remaining 3% is freshwater. These are our main freshwater sources:

Rainfall:

Rainwater is a relatively clean water source, but it can become contaminated once it hits the ground, which is why we treat it before supplying it to customers. Rainwater harvesting also plays an important role in reducing pressure on the water network.

Reservoirs:

Reservoirs are constructed lakes or bodies of water designed to store rainwater before it is transported to water treatment centres. Once cleaned, this water is then supplied to homes and businesses.

Groundwater:

Groundwater can be found beneath the Earth’s surface in the cracks and spaces between soil, sand and rock. We use boreholes, which have been sunk up to 120 meters underground, to pump this water to the surface.

Rivers and streams:

Rivers and streams provide many benefits to humans and are important habitats for plants and animals. They also carry water, organisms, gases and nutrients to areas that need them, as well as draining nearly 75% of the Earth's land surface.

Regional water resources

There is a new requirement for water companies to work together to produce regional water resource plans and, where possible, assess the potential to move water from areas of excess to areas of deficit.

More information on the group can be found at our dedicated West Country Water Resources website.

We are working together to produce our first Regional Water Resources Plan which will be published this year.

In addition to producing a regional plan, regulators require us to investigate the feasibility of three potential regional schemes over the next five year period.