Firm says supplies at usual level

By Kelly Thornham and Suzanne Rutter

WITH summer showers topping up reservoirs it is unlikely any water restrictions will be needed this year, Yorkshire Water said today.

Bosses say it is a far cry from the dark days of the 1995 drought when Calderdale almost ran dry and 10 years on stocks are healthy.

Thanks to a massive 667 million investment by the company over the past decade, which has cut down on water leaks, reservoirs across the district are currently three quarters full - average for this time of year, officials say.

Spokesman Steve Parsley said: “We are not in the same position as the south because we had more rain.

“The levels are usual for this time of year. Stocks are usually down (in August) in reservoirs and they will continue to drop. Supplies at the moment are average at around three quarters. There is no cause for concern, although we would obviously never say never.”

Yorkshire Water’s records go back to 1998 and reservoir levels during this time have ranged from 65 per cent to about 80 per cent, which means the current level of around 70 per cent is well within the normal range, said another spokeswoman, Karen O’Rourke.

She said: “The last hosepipe ban was in 1996 and we do not envisage any restrictions this year. We look to see what water stocks are like in November time. Stocks would have to be at 40 to 45 per cent in winter for us to worry because this is the time that our reservoirs are replenished.

“We always run a water resources strategy to plan in advance. Even though things are fine we plan for the worst.”

Mr Parsley said there would be a detrimental impact if the dry spell was to continue for another six to eight months, but this seemed unlikely at the moment.

He also explained that if reservoir levels in Calderdale were to drop extremely low, a grid system in place would mean water could be transferred to the region.

The system is made up of a series of underground water pipes that transport water to wherever it is needed. Therefore local reservoir levels were irrelevant, said Mr Parsley.

Yorkshire Water has spent millions of pounds restoring and replacing 5,600km of water mains over the past 10 years and a further 215million on repairing or replacing 133km of the sewer network across Yorkshire.

Despite one of the hottest summers on record in 2003, Yorkshire escaped a water shortage because of these improvements, the company claims. It has cut leakage from its mains network by 40 per cent.

A further 1.5billion has been set aside by the firm for the next five years to improve services.

Kevin Whiteman, chief executive of the Kelda Group, which owns Yorkshire Water, said: “It may be a decade since the drought but, for some of our customers, we are very much aware that we’re still on probation.

“There is absolutely no room for complacency. We will not relent on our drive to be the best.”

Calderdale was hit hard by the drought of 1995 when stocks in Calderdale’s reservoirs dropped to 18.5 per cent in September 1995.

Yorkshire Water was forced to resort to running a shuttle of tankers to keep supplies going. Water was pumped from the Booth Wood Reservoir near Rishworth and, as when that also ran dry, supplies were brought from Selby and then from as far away as the Kielder Reservoir in Northumbria.

A hosepipe ban affecting West Yorkshire was widened to North Yorkshire in an attempt to preserve stocks. The Evening Courier launched its campaign Water Watch to prevent the use of street standpipes and a hosepipe ban was introduced.

Yorkshire Water issued advice about how to save water.

They encouraged people to take showers instead of baths, repair dripping taps, wash dishes in a bowl instead of under a running tap and not to wash their cars.

Emergency plans were also drawn up by Calderdale Council chiefs to help the elderly and house bound if the area’s supplies were cut off.