WORCESTERSHIRE’S farmers are worried about falling water levels and a firm’s plans to share our water with other drought-hit parts of the country.
Severn Trent Water has struck a deal with Anglian Water to supply it with 30 million litres of water per day.
Anglian Water is one of seven firms that have imposed a hosepipe ban on its own customers, which is likely to stay in place all summer.
Helen Cork, NFU environmental adviser, said: “The fact that untreated water is being sent away from the region may be of concern to some farmers worried about low levels.
"However, we understand this is from a supply that has been built up for this purpose.
“Water is a very difficult resource to lay claim to county by county and the farming industry understands the need for prioritising the supply to ensure the best use is made of what is a very precious resource, especially if people elsewhere need drinking water.”
But she said groundwater supplies were worryingly low after two years of below-average rainfall.
“We have concerns that without a secure water supply, Worcestershire farm businesses will not be able to operate as effectively.
“However, the NFU is speaking to the Government and Environment Agency to ensure a supply of water is ring-fenced for farmers and that legislation and inspections do not hinder agricultural production,” she said.
“We are also calling on water companies to adopt a commonsense approach.”
She also said that farmers – who only use one per cent of the UK’s water supply – had already changed practices such as irrigating at night, investing in farm reservoirs and using technology such as trickle irrigation and rainwater harvesting.
Worcestershire NFU chairman and farmer Clive Davies, who runs Westwood Farm, a beef and sheep farm near Tenbury Wells, said: “I would think Severn Trent has done its sums. They know they have got good reserves.
“However, water is essential to food production.
“We do have to be very careful with the resources we have.
"The NFU will be very observant about what is going on, particularly as Worcestershire is such an important agricultural county.”
A Severn Trent spokesman said the water the company proposed to send over to Anglia came from boreholes in Birmingham and was “essentially spare”.
“This shouldn’t have any effect on water supplies to farmers or agriculture.
"Severn Trent is not imposing any usage restrictions at the current time and do not foresee any this year, on either customers or farmers.
“The water will be raw water sent via rivers and so should in fact help the environment rather than having a detrimental effect.
“We are talking to the NFU and are happy to work together in these difficult times for water resource levels.”