Droughts are natural events. A drought happens when a period of low rainfall creates a shortage of water for people, the environment, agriculture, or industry.

Some droughts are short and intense, for example, a hot, dry summer, while others are long and take some time to develop.

Dry winters can have the biggest impact on water resources. We rely on winter rain to top up groundwater and reservoir levels while summer rain helps to maintain reservoir levels and keep rivers flowing.

The Environment Agency's role is to protect the environment by minimising the impact of drought, while making sure there's enough water for people.

Save water at home

Find out why you should save water, how you can help conserve supplies and what actions to take during periods of very low rainfall if you have a private water supply.

We must all use water wisely to make sure we have enough water and to protect our valuable natural environment. Reducing water consumption at home will also help lower costs if you are on a water meter.

Try to use less water

We should always be looking for ways to use less water, particularly during a drought. Think before you use water - ask yourself what the water is for and if you really need to use it.

  • Wash your car with a bucket. This generally uses less water than using a hose, but do you really need to wash it? Just keep headlights, mirrors and windows clean for safety reasons.
  • Don’t let water run to waste while waiting for the water to get hot. Collect and use it to water plants.
  • Avoid running the tap until the water runs cold every time you want a drink. Keep a jug of water in the fridge so you always have cool drinking water.
  • Let your grass grow. This provides shade for the soil and helps retain water. If your grass goes brown, it doesn’t mean it has died: it will recover when it rains.
  • Reuse bath water for house plants or in the garden. You can collect it using a watering can, or buy a device to siphon bath water from the bath to the garden.
  • Use water saving crystals in pots and hanging baskets which expand and hold water in your soil when you water it and when it rains.

A water situation report is published monthly and can be found by entering this into the search location on the Environment Agency website.

The South East Region drought plan is also available from the Environment Agency website.