To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likelihood of water shortages in 2005.
The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales and it advises the Secretary of State accordingly. The agency's current assessment is that even with average rainfall over the next six weeks there may still be some localised water supply problems in southern England this summer. Below average rainfall is likely to result in more serious problems for water companies in the South and this may extend towards the South-West and into the Midlands and East Anglia. Water companies may need to activate the measures in their drought plans, such as hosepipe bans, if the rainfall deficit does not diminish.