This study uses extended (1880s–2012) rainfall series to examine the implications of historical droughts on water supply yield calculations used in water resource management and drought planning across the English Midlands and Central Wales. UK guidance to water companies is to use climate data from the 1920s to present where possible in modelling to inform water resource management and drought plans; but this period excludes several significant droughts of the late 19th century. This study uses the standardised precipitation index and hydrological modelling (HYSIM and AQUATOR) to investigate the implications of pre-1920s droughts on water resource management. Although drought characterisation identifies two significant droughts in the pre-1920 period, the impact of these events on reservoir storage is less severe than droughts identified in the post-1920 period, indicating that the use of long climate series in water resource modelling is a valuable tool in assessing the robustness of current water resource modelling used in the water resource sector.

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