Breckland ‘dry as Jerusalem’

An Environment Agency expert has warned that there will be water supply problems in Breckland following a prolonged drought period.

Dr Geoff Brighty, who is central area manager for the EA, told members of Breckland Council at a recent cabinet meeting that the area was “as dry as Jerusalem”.

He said: “You live in a lovely part of the world and you have some fantastic environment, but you are one of the driest areas in the country and yet housing growth proposed for this part of the world is 20,000. We have got a problem here: your growth won’t be sustainable. I believe that next year there will be public water supply problems.”

From November last year to October this year, there has been 69 per cent of the long-term average rainfall in Breckland and a prolonged period of drought for the past four years, according to Dr Brighty.

“We all need rain and we need it consistently for the next four months. My top tip this Christmas is buy someone a water butt,” he added.

If the lack of ground water and rainfall continues, the manager warned councillors that agriculture in Breckland will be significantly affected next year.

Dr Brighty praised the efforts that the council had made to try to save water, including the Breckland Water Cycle Study which was published in November 2008.

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He told councillors that new homes needed to be built more efficiently and the agency was working with farmers in the area in order to retain the water quality, and research ways to reuse water.

He added there might have to be a hosepipe ban next year.

William Nunn, leader of the council, said: “The fact we are having this dialogue with the EA is an important step forward.”