A Cross-government report by the National Audit Office published on the 6th December 2023 said: “Extreme weather events are those weather events that are significantly different from the average or usual weather pattern. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more extreme as global temperatures rise. Recent events, such as successive severe storms, high temperatures and droughts experienced in 2022, have highlighted the challenges that the UK faces from these risks”.

Conclusions: Paragraph 2: “Extreme weather events can have devastating consequences for individuals, communities, and businesses. Recent events have shown that government must do more to help prepare for and develop resilience to extreme weather”.

Figure 1: illustrated four case studies: droughts, high temperatures and heatwaves, storms, and surface water flooding.

There was no mention of Wildfires (seen daily in other parts of the world and coming ever closer) and the need for plentiful amounts of fire-fighting water.

Paragraph 21:”The Climate Change Committee has found little evidence that government is driving adaptation at the pace and scale needed to fully prepare for climate risks facing the UK. It, along with the National Infrastructure Commission, has highlighted that infrastructure, such as roads, rail, power, and data centres, is not designed to withstand extreme weather events, particularly high temperatures and heatwaves”.

Paragraph 25: ”Regulation and standards are important tools to support the development of resilience to extreme weather events, but government’s use of these tools is currently limited. Some regulators, including Ofgem and Ofcom, do not have a climate resilience remit. By comparison, Ofwat’s duties include securing the long-term resilience of water companies’ water supply”.

As a retired Water Supply Engineer and Manager, I was involved in laying hundreds of miles of new mains, with statutory fire hydrants (indicated in streets by Yellow Plates with a black H) in liaison with the Fire Authorities. The Ofwat supply duty should ensure that public fire hydrants do not run dry for ordinary scale events. But their capacity to fight catastrophic scale wildfires (especially in wooded areas) cannot be taken for granted.

Rivers and streams may well be running dry. Therefore, there is the greatest need to conserve, maintain, and develop all available sources of stored water, including CANAL systems, docks, reservoirs, weirs, sluices, baths, artificial ponds & pools.

Anthony R Burton, MBE, Chartered Civil & Water Engineer (Retired).Nailsworth