Drought officially declared for England

The Environment Agency has declared that parts of the UK are officially suffering drought as we head for the driest spring in a hundred years.

Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire and western Norfolk have been confirmed as drought areas.

Wales, south west and eastern England have only received around 11-14 % of their average rainfall for June so far. Central and northern England has received as little as four to six % of their monthly rainfall total.

While there has been more rain for northern England over the last two weeks it is too soon to say whether the country as a whole will escape a water crisis.

The environment agency looks at several factors before drought status is confirmed, including river flows, groundwater levels, risk to the environment and agriculture.

In the drought affected areas, Anglian Water and Cambridge Water have said that there is no threat to the public water supply as they have enough water to get through the summer.

Currently no water companies have a hosepipe and sprinkler ban in place and have not issued non-essential use drought orders.

Farmers are likely to be facing hard times as 27 farmers operating in Walland and Romney Marsh in Kent, have been notified by the Environment Agency to cease abstractions for spray irrigation purposes from the 20 June.

In an opinion editorial for The Times newspaper, Lord Chris Smith of the Environment Agency spoke of the challenges ahead for the UK climate.

He said: “Too often we assume that water is an infinitely available resource – when in fact it is a precious, finite and essential ingredient for life.

“We need to use it wisely. And to plan for, and manage, that use as best we can.

“All the scientific evidence of climate change tells us that we’re going to see increasing extremes of weather as it begins to take its toll. More floods, more droughts. More intense downpours, more periods without rain.

“We need to plan ahead for this. We should prepare ourselves for the need to face these sorts of problem rather more frequently in the years to come.”

Alison Brown

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