Problems Loom For The Isle Of Man After Heatwave

The island could be headed for food shortages and price rises after the driest month for nearly 70 years.

While islanders enjoyed the hottest June day on record, the Manx National Farmers’ Union and the production manager at a fish farm have concerns as to what the lack of rain will do to crop yields and livestock.

Andrew Cooper, general secretary of the Manx NFU, said the lack of rainfall would affect yield and therefore prices. The problem is not limited to the island, as the UK and Ireland are suffering with the dry spell too.

He warned: ‘The yields from crops like broccoli and cauliflower will be terrible, if they even grow at all, which would lead to price rises. A really big concern is if, when it does rain, it comes down heavy rather than in showers over several days.

‘If it comes down hard, then it won’t soak into the ground and will just run off into the rivers, which is no good for the farms.’

Mr Cooper added that wheat and barley were struggling across the British Isles, meaning the price of beer could be set for a rise.

Tim Knighton, production manager at Troutlodge, where £240,000-worth of fish and fish eggs were killed by someone switching off a generator last month, is also concerned over the lack of rain.

He said: ‘At the moment we are obviously struggling with water as both farms are fed by the natural waterways. We believe this is the lowest and soonest in the year this has happened for maybe even a couple of decades. We have two fish farmers here who say they have never seen it so low.

‘One farm is running at six litres per second with recirculation keeping over 50,000 fish alive and the forecast shows no sign of rainfall.’

Mr Knighton also said other fish farmers had noted issues with river levels and were concerned what the dry spell could be doing to the island’s waterways and farming industry.

Manx Utilities has moved to allay fears of a water shortage.

A spokesman said: ‘Despite the very hot weather Manx Utilities would like to reassure its customers that the reservoir levels are monitored and are sufficiently stocked.

‘Moving water across the island and the treatment of raw water involves the use of energy and so everyone can help by considering their water needs while the island enjoys this beautiful weather.’

The MUA has confirmed that Sulby reservoir, the largest in the island, is currently about 80% full and West Baldwin (Injebrek) is just over 60% full.

However, as our pictures show, the water levels in Injebrek have fallen significantly.

The Manx Independent reported on June 14 the level was at about 80%. That is now just over 60%.

This means the water level at Injebrek reservoir has dropped by up to a quarter in less than three weeks, although the MUA can add to it by pumping water from Sulby.

The MUA has also issued advice in order to preserve water.

This includes tips for inside the house, such as turning taps off properly, taking short showers rather than baths, use a watering can rather than a hosepipe to water the flowers and avoiding using sprinklers due to their high water usage.

The Met Office has confirmed June was a record-breaking month.

The hottest day in June, Wednesday 27, saw a temperature recorded of 27.5C.

That beat the record for the hottest June day, set on June 28, 1995, when temperatures reached 26.9C.

It is also the fifth hottest day on record and the hottest day the island has experienced since June 18, 2006.

A spokesman from the Met Office said: ‘Looking at May and June together, we’ve had 17 days with temperatures exceeding 20C, the most in any May/June period on record.

During the month, the island had 12.6mm of rainfall. This is the second driest June on record, with only the June of 1949 seeing less rain, with 8.4mm.

It last rained on Wednesday, June 20, which was described as ‘drizzle’.

It rained up until 8.45am and 0.1mm of rain fell.

Before then, the Isle of Man last saw rain on Saturday, June 16.

With just four days of measurable rainfall, that too is a new June record, while it is the driest summer month since August 2003.

For sunlight, the island basked in 307 hours of bright sunshine, which is more than 100 hours above average.

This too is a new June record, beating the 303 hours recorded in 1975.

The Met Office also confirmed that the island saw three days of fog, no thunder and ‘surprisingly a ground frost on June 23’.

Around the Isle of Man, people are being warned not to have barbecues or smoke in dry areas such as woodland and fields due to the risk of fire.

If current Met Office forecasts are correct, the island will not see rain for at least another seven to 10 days.

Source: IOM Today