Portsmouth Water has no large raw water storage reservoirs. It relies almost entirely upon groundwater reserves in the chalk aquifers of the South Downs and abstracts its raw water from wells, boreholes and springs. It has one river abstraction at Gaters Mill on the River Itchen, a chalk river with a groundwater baseflow.
Those reserves rise and fall with the seasons and so Portsmouth Water pays particular attention to the local hydrogeological data by monitoring rainfall at its Havant Offices, groundwater levels in the chalk at Idsworth on the Hampshire/Sussex border, as well as the total yield from the natural springs at Havant and Bedhampton.
These resources are monitored on a daily basis and reported upon on a monthly basis. The information here is therefore at times one month behind the most current situation.
The information gathered is reproduced here for information purposes; no guarantee is given as to its accuracy.
The Rainfall Records at the Company’s Head Office at Havant date back to 1886.
The month of April saw well below average rainfall with approximately 19% of the long term average rain for the month. Rain fell on 3 days or 10% of the days, with the maximum daily rainfall approximately 6mm on Sunday 30 April 2017.
Total rainfall for the month was 10mm, lower than the long term average (last 30 years) of 53mm.
The Company has groundwater records from the Idsworth Estate Well, north of Rowlands Castle, which date back to 1931. Water levels in the Well, which is entirely unaffected by abstraction, give an accurate indication of the groundwater reserves of the South Downs. In the winter, levels usually rise in response to rainfall, whilst during the summer, levels recede as any summer rainfall either evaporates or is taken up by trees and plants before reaching the aquifer below. Levels can fluctuate by as much as 20m.
The Groundwater level is usually recorded in metres AOD (Above Ordnance Datum), Ordnance Datum principally being equivalent to sea level.
Groundwater levels at the end of the Summer 2016 were close to the long term average. Autumnal rainfall in September, October and November normally sees the rapid recovery of groundwater levels. Actual Autumnal rainfall has been 55% of the long term average 243mm compared with 427mm. The month of October being particularly low, 7mm compared with the long term average of 100mm. Rainfall within our catchment during January, February and March has been 90% of the long term average and has seen ground water levels recovering. Despite the particularly low rainfall of April, 10mm compared with 53mm, ground water levels at the end of April were at 22.4m, 0.7m below the long term average.
It is normal for ground water levels to begin to fall at this time of the year. The effect of low rainfall in April is now just beginning to be seen with a steeper recession of levels than normal and on the 8th May 2017 ground water levels were at 20.5m, 2.3m lower than the long term average but still considered to be at “normal” levels for the time of year. So long as rainfall remains close to average for the year, we do not see the need for drought control measures, such as temporary use bans, but would encourage all customers to continue to use water wisely.
The graph below shows the change in groundwater level over the last twenty four months compared to the Long Term Average (last 30 years).