Drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low precipitation that can lead to water shortages, reduced soil moisture, and environmental stress.

Drought is becoming a more common phenomenon

As British summers grow increasingly warm, prolonged periods of dry weather are becoming a common phenomenon. These dry spells impact groundwater and reservoir levels, as well as overall water infrastructure. Drought is becoming more common, and evidence suggests this trend is likely to continue. The Met Office projects that summers in most of Europe, including the UK, will become drier as the 21st century progresses due to human-induced climate change.

The increased likelihood of drought occurring, possibly lasting longer or beginning earlier in the year, means that it’s important to ready for this eventuality. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to better conserve water and ensure that water resources remain available.

Water recycling and conservation methods

The first, and easiest, step to be ready for drought is to conserve water wherever possible. Check your plumbing for drips or leaks and ensure any issues are resolved. Consider installing water-saving appliances and fixtures, such as low-flow shower heads and efficient dishwashers, designed specifically to save water. These can greatly reduce your water consumption without compromising performance.

Another great way to recycle water and reduce your consumption is to collect greywater for non-potable purposes, such as flushing toilets or watering your garden. Water plants in the evening when it’s cooler to reduce evaporation, and prioritise watering mature plants wherever possible.

Adopting a “reduce, reuse, recycle” approach to your water consumption means that during a drought period, you’ll already know how to mitigate any impacts. Additionally, the water you’ve stored will be saved for more important uses, such as drinking or cooking.

Low-cost water storage solutions

The following water storage solutions are quick to implement and low-cost. They also take up limited or no space inside your home, which is great for those living in smaller spaces.

Rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is an ancient practice that has been utilised for centuries. It involves collecting and storing rainwater. The most basic system is a simple barrel set up next to your house and fed via a down pipe. It captures water from your designated catchment area, usually your house rooftop, and stores it in the barrel until you need it.

You can create a more complex barrel system that will store larger amounts of rainwater. These can capture a significant amount of water during a brief downpour, providing a critical supply during drier periods.

Remember that if you want to use rainwater captured in your barrel system for drinking or cooking, you will need to make it safe. There are multiple ways of doing this, including using iodine, filters, or even simply boiling the water to make it safe.

Collapsible water storage containers

Collapsible water storage containers are an affordable, portable option that provides flexibility and convenience. These containers usually hold several litres of water. They can be filled during periods of rain or pre-drought and then stored. During droughts, these water reserves can serve as a lifeline for essential needs, such as drinking or cooking with where needed.

Unlike other water storage solutions, collapsible water storage containers are easy to use and do not require a significant investment of time or money. They’re lightweight and can be quickly set up in any location. With their compact size, they can also be easily stored when not in use and transported to a different location if needed.

Water storage bags and bottled water

Water storage bags are an excellent option for anyone looking for an economical and space-efficient solution to store water. They’re a reliable option, as they’re designed to be durable and leak-proof. Additionally, they can be conveniently stored until needed, and easily accessed when the time comes.

Additionally, maintaining a backup supply of bottled water is an excellent way to ensure that you always have a quick and reliable source of drinking water available. Bottled water can provide an excellent alternative source of water in emergencies. It’s always a good idea to have a supply on hand.

Water purification techniques

Unless you’ve got a store of bottled water handy, you’ll want to consider water purification methods to ensure your stored water is safe to drink. The methods outlined will all make biologically contaminated water safe to drink. If you’re concerned that your water may be contaminated with non-biological agents such as toxic chemicals or heavy metals, your purification process will require additional steps to make the water safe.

Boiling your water

Boiling is one of the simplest and most effective methods to purify water. By bringing the water to a rolling boil for one-three minutes, you can kill most types of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present in the water. After boiling, allow the water to cool before consuming.

Portable water filters

These are handy devices designed to remove impurities from water. They come in various forms, such as straw filters, pump filters, and squeeze filters. Filters utilise physical filtration mechanisms to remove bacteria, protozoa, and some viruses from the water. They may also incorporate activated carbon elements to reduce unpleasant taste and smells. Be sure to check the specifications of the filter to understand its capabilities and limitations.

Water purification tablets

Portable and easy to use, water purification tablets typically contain chemicals which can effectively kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Follow the instructions provided with the tablets, as they may vary depending on the brand. Generally, you’ll need to add the tablet to a specific volume of water and wait for a certain amount of time before it is safe to drink.

Solar water disinfection

This is a low-cost method that uses solar energy to purify water. It involves filling clear plastic bottles with water and exposing them to direct sunlight for at least six hours. The UV-A radiation from the sun kills the microorganisms present in the water, making it safe to drink. This method is most effective when using clear plastic bottles that are PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or glass.

Ensure water security during drought

It’s important to recognise the role that climate change plays in exacerbating drought conditions. To ensure water security, consider implementing water recycling and conservation strategies. These might include making small lifestyle changes, and preparing a store of water. Make sure you consider how you will purify your water stores should the need arise. These actions will also contribute to overall water sustainability and help foster a water-wise future.


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