The HS2 water use attracted criticism from local MP after hot and dry weather led to drought in England.  

The driest summer in 50 years led to parts of England being officially moved to drought status on Friday August 12 by the National Drought Group made up of the Environment Agency, government, water companies and other key groups.  

As water levels in some rivers were at the lowest level ever recorded since July 1935, water companies were urged to fix leaking pipes and residents and business to be mindful of the pressure on water resources, the Environment Agency said.

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In her letter to the CEO of Affinity Water, the Chesham and Amersham MP Sarah Green said: “The impact of HS2 Limited’s water usage on the Chiltern Aquifer and our precious local Chalk Streams has been a cause of concern for some time now.”

While Ms Green agreed that everyone should “do our bit during environmental crises”, she felt the onus of preserving water was “unfairly” on individuals while the HS2 continued to put additional stress on the public water supply.

She said: “In light of this, I am calling on both Affinity Water and the Environment Agency to take urgent action to limit the volume of water used in the construction of HS2.”

She also asked Affinity Water and the Environment Agency to clarify how much water is used in the construction of HS2.

An HS2 spokesperson said: “We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and all our activity is carried out with the relevant permissions. Given the current weather conditions, we are working hard to reduce the use of water on site, including reusing water for activities like wheel washing and supressing dust.

“We work closely with the Environment Agency and Affinity Water, and have funded significant improvements to the resilience of the public water supply ahead of the start of construction, so that we can obtain water without compromising public water supply – including during dry conditions.”

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While the government felt assured by water providers that essential water supplies are safe, it was water companies’ “duty to maintain those supplies,” Water Minister Steve Double said.

They should continue with their protecting essential supplies "in the event of a dry Autumn", the Environment Agency said. 

Harvey Bradshaw, Environment Agency executive director for the environment and chair of the National Drought Group, commented:  “The current high temperatures we are experiencing have exacerbated pressures on wildlife and our water environment.

 “EA staff are doing an excellent job responding to environmental impacts and working with water companies to make sure they are following their drought plans.

 “Today’s meeting has helped to build on our coordinated action to manage water supplies, consider water users and protect the environment. We urge everyone to manage the amount of water they are using in this exceptionally dry period.”