United Utilities has applied for three drought permits to take more water from the Lake District.
That includes water from three sources in Cumbria – Lake Ullswater, Lake Windermere and Ennerdale Water, citing the warning of a “severe water shortage” when submitting the applications.
The water company said the permits are necessary due to an “exceptional shortage” of rainfall, which has resulted in very low storage levels in Ennerdale Water and a “threat of serious deficiency” to public supplies.
It must seek permission from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to increase water abstraction from Ennerdale Water because it feeds the River Ehen which is a Special Area of Conservation.
United Utilities is requesting to increase its present limit from 1.7 metres to 2.5 metres below the crest of the dam.
It has also applied to the Environment Agency for permits for the other two water sources – they would only be issued after public consultation and a review of all the available hydrological data.
Martin Pradley, United Utilities Water Services Director said: “The reducing raw water reservoir levels are not surprising given the ongoing lack of rainfall. Applying for drought permits is not a decision we have taken lightly and we are working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that water supplies are protected for both customers and the environment.”
The news follows the water company’s temporary hosepipe ban from 5th August “to maintain essential supplies”.