Drought permits

To help us refill our reservoirs over the winter, we're applying to the Environment Agency for drought permits. 

Buttersley Marsden Reservoir

This summer has been exceptionally dry. Parts of Yorkshire have seen the lowest rainfall since our records began more than 130 years ago. The hot, dry, weather means that Yorkshire’s rivers are running low, and our reservoirs are around 20% lower than we would expect for this time of year. 

To help protect the environment and manage water stocks, we introduced a Temporary Use Ban (more commonly known as a hosepipe ban) on Friday 26 August. This is the first time we have needed to implement restrictions since 1996.  

The exceptionally dry weather means that we also need to take further steps to allow our reservoirs to recover and to ensure that we will have enough water next year to supply customers and protect the environment.  

To help us refill our reservoirs over the winter we are applying to the Environment Agency for drought permits, which will allow us to increase the amount of water we take from rivers to use for supply or reduce the amount of water we release from reservoirs to support river levels downstream (these are called compensation flows).  

By reducing compensation flows we will preserve supplies in our reservoirs for meeting customer demand if the exceptionally low rainfall continues. This will reduce the flow to the downstream environment but will allow us to continue to support the river environment for longer.  

Applications relating to river abstractions are for increasing the total volume we can abstract. This will reduce the volume we need to take from reservoirs and help conserve reservoir stocks.   

The permit applications won’t have any impact on customer supplies, but we would always ask customers to play their part by using water wisely even during the winter months to help reservoir levels recover.  

Application documents

North West

Supporting information

1. YW NW Area Drought Permits Supporting Information

2. YW Exceptional shortage of rain evidence_13-09-2022

3. EMP Main Document 180822

4. EMP North West Area Appendix 130922

5. North West EAR Final 070922

6. YW DP22 Baseline & Sensitivity Analysis - North West Area 070922

7. North_West_Area_Map1_Aug19

8. North_West_Area_Map2_Aug19

9. North_West_Area_Map3_Sep19


Application forms

10. WR80 Carr Bottom Reservoir

11. WR80 Doe Park Reservoir

12. WR80 Eldwick Reservoir

13. WR80 Embsay Reservoir

14. CRT email of support Embsay Reservoir

15. WR80 Grimwith Reservoir

16. WR80 Heweden Reservoir

17. WR80 Leeming Reservoir

18. WR80 Leeshaw Reservoir

19. WR80 Reva Reservoir

20. WR80 Silsden Reservoir

21. WR80 Springhead Weir Maintained Flow

22. WR80 Weecher Reservoir


Draft permits

23. Carr Bottom Reservoir draft permit

24. Doe Park Reservoir draft permit

25. Eldwick Res Drought Permit draft

26. Embsay Reservoir Drought Permit draft

27. Grimwith Reservoir Drought Permit draft

28. Hewenden Reservoir draft permit

29. Leeming Reservoir Drought Permit draft

30. Leeshaw Reservoir Drought Permit draft

31. Reva Reservoir Drought Permit draft

32. Silsden Reservoir Drought Permit draft

33. Springhead Weir Maint Flow Drought Permit draft

34. Weecher Res Drought Permit draft



35. 1842 Bradford Water (Hewenden) Act

36. 1854 Bradford Waterworks Act

37. 1854 Shipley Waterworks and Police (Eldwick, Graincliffe) Act

38. 1889 Yeadon Waterworks (Reva) Act

39. 1890 Baildon Local Board Water (Weecher) Act

40. 1899 Burley in Wharfedale Urban District Water (Carr Bottom) Act

41. 1904 Skipton Water and Improvement (Embsay) Act

42. 1916 Yeadon Waterworks (Reva) Act



43. Doe Park Licence

44. Embsay Abstraction Licence 2 27 15 45

45. Grimwith Impoundment Licence

46. Keighley Moor Abstraction Licence

47. Leeming Impoundment Licence

48. Leeshaw Impoundment Licence

49. Lower Laithe Abstraction Licence

50. Ponden Abstraction Licence

51. Silsden Abstraction Licence


Notice of public hearing

52. Public enquiry notice


Determination report

Determination Report

Annexe 1 - Leeming Reservoir

Annexe 2 - Leeshaw Reservoir

Annexe 3 - Doe Park Reservoir

Annexe 4 - Hewenden Reservoir

Annexe 5 - Eldwick Reservoir

Annexe 6 - Reva Reservoir

Annexe 7 - Weecher Reservoir

Annexe 8 - Silsden Reservoir

Annexe 9 - Embsay Reservoir

Annexe 10 - Grimwith Reservoir

Annexe 11 - Carr Bottom Reservoir

Annexe 12 - Springhead Weir


Issued permits

Drought permit issue letter

Carr Bottom permit

Doe Park permit

Eldwick permit

Embsay permit

Grimwith permit

Hewenden permit

Leeming permit

Leeshaw permit

Reva permit

Silsden permit

Springhead Weir permit

Weecher permit


Wharfe (Grimwith) - application withdrawn
Wharfe at Lobwood

Frequently asked questions

What are Drought Permits?

Drought Permits allow us to make some temporary changes to way we operate supply water by allowing us to: 

  • Reduce the amount of water we release from reservoirs to support river levels downstream.  
  • Take more water from rivers to use for supply, giving our reservoirs more chance to refill. 

Both these actions allow us to increase the chances of our reservoirs refilling over winter when the weather is wetter, meaning we should go into next spring and summer in a healthier position in terms of our water stocks. 

Where are you applying for Drought Permits for?

We are initially submitting Drought Permits for our north west area reservoirs, followed then by the Rivers Ouse, Wharfe and Ure. We are also planning to submit permit applications for reservoirs in the north, south and south west areas, as well as around Hull. However, this may change depending on rainfall. Details of where we have applied for permits for can be viewed above.  

Why do you release water from reservoirs straight into rivers rather than saving it for supply?

We release water from our reservoirs directly into rivers to help support river revels downstream and protect the environment. These releases are called compensation flows. The amount we release into the river is set by the Environment Agency, which is why we need to apply to them for a permit to reduce the amount we release. 

How long will the permits last for?

We are applying for permits to last until the end of June 2023. This should allow our reservoirs time to recover during the winter and should mean compensation flows are restored to normal in time for when we’re likely to have drier weather, helping to protect the environment in the summer months. 

Will reducing the flows released into the rivers / taking more water from the river damage the environment?

A healthy water environment is vital to a secure and healthy water supply. As part of the application process we carry out extensive environmental monitoring to understand the potential impact and all of this information is included in our applications for drought orders and permits. If granted, the orders and permits will include mitigation conditions specific to each area that we will carry out to minimise the impact on the local environment.  

How can I comment on the applications?

Comments on drought permit applications can be made in writing to the Environment Agency at Water Resources Permitting Support Centre, Environment Agency, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Parkway Business Park, Sheffield, S9 4WF or emailed to psc-waterresources@environment-agency.gov.uk. Comments must be made within 7 days of the application being advertised. 

Will this affect my water supply?

No, drought permits only affect the amount of water we release from reservoirs in compensation flows, and the amount we can take from rivers for supply. Customer supplies won’t be affected by these applications. Some businesses who abstract water downstream from our reservoirs may be impacted and we’ll be in touch with them directly as part of the application process.