North West braced for drought threat
England's North West - usually one of the wetter parts of the country - has had a dry start to the year with much lower than average rainfall over the past five months, prompting a call to action to help prevent drought.
While it's still a long way off standpipes in the streets, John Sanders from United Utilities, the water company that covers most of the region, urged the public to think carefully about their water use while offering reassurances that the taps were not about to run dry.
"We are certainly not applying for drought permits - nor are we about to introduce a hosepipe ban," he said.
"[But] if this dry weather continues we have strategies in place to maintain essential supplies to customers.
"We are following our normal plans for dry weather conditions, which include making use of our highly integrated supply network to balance supply and demand across the region.
"We will also make use of reserve groundwater sources to augment supplies if required.
"While we're taking action to manage supplies, it is a good time to remind our customers that water is a precious resource."
The water company is also offering free water saving packs and a water-use calculator to help customers cut their water use, with details available on the United Utilities website.
Clive Gaskell, The Environment Agency's water manager added: "We are working closely with United Utilities to protect the region's water supplies in both the short and long term whilst protecting the environment and wildlife.
"We all need to use less water and if everyone makes little changes to reduce the amount of water they use it all adds up to a huge amount of water being saved."