Attendees to recent Water Resources events in the Chew Valley, held by Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART), were surprised to hear predictions that our local water supply will be under pressure in coming decades.
Our climate is getting warmer, and summers drier meaning water will be scarcer. Alongside this, our population is growing, and people use more water per person than ever before (150 litres per day). If no action is taken, Bristol Water predict that by 2050 our demand for water will outstrip our supply.
Attendees learnt that not enough water for us also means not enough water for wildlife. If we can reduce our demand (government target: 110 litres per day), not only will we increase our own water resilience, but we will also leave more in the environment to support healthy ecosystems. Low water levels in rivers can be catastrophic for river-dwelling species; temperatures rise, oxygen drops, sections of river become impassable, and pollution becomes more concentrated.
Data collected by Bristol Avon Rivers Trust in the River Chew already demonstrates a worrying drop in species diversity during dry spells. During the hot weather of last summer, many previously common invertebrate species were not being detected at all.
Evidence derived from the Environment Agency and most recently Bristol Water’s 2022 fish surveys suggests some fish species are also in decline throughout the River Chew with low river levels being one of many threats that are likely to be impacting during the summer months.
Everyone has a part to play in saving water and keeping the Winford Brook and River Chew flowing healthily. We are hoping to get involved in projects to check the health of our water courses which should be coming ‘onstream’ in the Autumn, joining those already involved.
Bristol Water has lots of great tips for water saving available on our website. Check out their Every Drip Every Drop campaign, bristolwater.co.uk/every-drop, and learn how you can order free water saving devices, such as shower flow regulators, from our partners at
Save Water Save Money.
By Dr Amy Wade (BART)