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BBC Exaggerate Drought Claims

July 27, 2022

By Paul Homewood


Today’s disinformation from the BBC:




The period between January and June this year was the driest in England since 1976, the Met Office has said.

With water levels running low, the National Drought Group met on Tuesday to discuss how to cope with conditions.

The group stopped short of declaring a drought but water companies have been putting the early stages of their drought plans into action by urging people to save water.

It comes after the UK’s record temperature was broken last week….

Environment Agency executive director Harvey Bradshaw, who chairs the National Drought Group, said the group would continue to monitor the situation with further dry weather forecast for August.

Nowhere in England is currently considered "in drought" but most of the country except for the north-west has moved into "prolonged dry weather" status, with low river flows which can impact farmers and wildlife.

Months of below-average rainfall has also led to low groundwater levels, dry soils and low reservoir levels.

Graph showing rainfall in the first six months of the year from 1976 to 2022 


To compare this year with 1976 is really quite mendacious, as the latter was much, much drier. And as the BBC’s own chart shows, there have been eight other years since then with similar rainfall levels to this year. Indeed, in England, as opposed to England & Wales, both 1996 and 2010 had drier starts to the year).

In other words, this year is not an exceptional event, merely something you expect to see every few years or so.

And if you go back through the full Met Office record to 1836, we can see again that there is nothing at all unusual about this year.( Indeed, all of the really dry years occurred in 1976 and before:



And that photo, which pretends that we are running out of water?


A man walks on the dry ground at Dowry reservoir, near to Oldham


It was taken at Dowry Reservoir, near Oldham. A quick internet check shows similar images published in 2013:





And 2019:





It is one of those favourite go-to photographs for the media, which conveniently omit the full scale of the reservoir – (the same photo has appeared in two Guardian articles, one Independent one, and various obscure publications this month):





Half full reservoirs like this are actually a common sight in English summers.

This by the way is the dam at the end of our road today. I remember several years when there was no more than a puddle at the top end:


  1. July 27, 2022 12:12 pm

    To paraphrase the late Alan Coren,
    ‘One two three four, all together,
    The IPCC have climate;
    We have weather!

  2. Gordon Hughes permalink
    July 27, 2022 12:16 pm

    In a sense this illustrates the sheer incompetence and ignorance of BBC journalists. As you point out, this reservoir is a standard seasonal storage facility designed and expected to be substantially depleted over the summer. There would be more to worry about if the picture had been taken in March, but no doubt it is convenient to send out a photographer from Salford.

    What is worse is that all of the BBC news reports yesterday were referring to drought in Southern England. So, they choose of a picture of a reservoir in Oldham to illustrate what is happening in East Anglia and Kent!! You couldn’t make it up.

    Quite apart from the obvious bias, the real lesson is that the BBC is so limited in its journalistic resources that it can’t even do a competent job in disseminating propaganda. The staff must think that no-one will ever check or challenge what they are putting out.

    • bobn permalink
      July 27, 2022 12:46 pm

      As you say. There’s only a problem in Southern England. Which begs the question ‘Where is our National water grid?’.
      The Victorians designed one (connecting the rivers and reservoirs by our extensive canal network). Never been built. Cant get water from Wales to the Severn nor from the Severn to the Thames. Only a few links missing and Govt could have built it when water nationalised – but didnt bother despite 1976. Now Thames water fights to prevent its customers having access to Severn-Trent water. The inadequate water infrastructure in this wet country is pathetic.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 27, 2022 1:37 pm

        Actually I am supplied by a what was formerly known as the Folkestone and district Water Company (now taken over by Affinity Group). A senior official lives nearby to me. Admittedly we are supplied by underground aquifers but when I asked him was there likely to be a local shortage his immediate response was “no chance”. Make of that what you will but nobody in East Kent seems to be making any fuss at all about drought and our local intermittent down land Bourne is running quite healthily in its upper sections.

  3. Beagle permalink
    July 27, 2022 12:40 pm

    They still run this everyday to prove they are the site to believe.

    “The audacious PR plot that spread climate change doubt”

    Nice clear headline

    “Flooding kills 21 in drought-hit Iran”

  4. Jack Broughton permalink
    July 27, 2022 12:50 pm

    The media “Fear Campaign” is back at full volume, obviously to try to influence the Tory tea-party. Last night they claimed that the UK was threatened by drought due to climate change and that Spain’s drought was further evidence of climate change. On the BBC this morning I heard someone trying to link a farm’s problem with lack of water to climate change even when it was admitted that the farmer had no active irrigation methods.

    The eco-nutters are getting very desperate in their determination to prevent fracking and oil development, even though the consequence of not doing these is potentially disastrous for the UK. Meanwhile Kwasi continues on his foolish way……

  5. David Allan permalink
    July 27, 2022 12:58 pm

    Is that true, or did you hear it from the BBC…….?

  6. W Flood permalink
    July 27, 2022 1:32 pm

    Although in Scotland we are 20 miles from the border. Quite wet last week so Cumbria would have been too. Just bits of England are dry. Water grid would solve.

  7. TrevorC permalink
    July 27, 2022 2:20 pm

    I remember 1976 and much talk of the need to prepare our infrastructure for the next drought. Then it rained and everyone forgot about it.

  8. July 27, 2022 2:36 pm

    “BBC Exaggerate Drought Claims”
    Nope they are quoting the Met Office
    \\ The period between January and June this year was the driest in England since 1976, the Met Office has said. //
    Look like a cherrypick of ENGLAND
    and Jan 1st to May 31st

  9. July 27, 2022 3:13 pm

    I repost my comment made on the Rowlatt thread
    6:45pm Tuesday BBC local NewsPR
    Paul Hudson “By any definition we are quite clearly in a drought”

    low water level and actual drought are different things aren’t they ?

    Surely in a country which has high rainfall
    a month with 50% normal rain isn’t really a drought.
    Like you could have house in Spain and a house in the UK with twice the amount of rain
    yet they are telling you the UK is the one in drought.

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