The Environment Agency said, from today, it would be ‘stepping up’ river monitoring to check for pollution leaks, as slow flowing or lower river levels struggle to dilute poisonous spills.

The agency has also said it will have specialist pumping equipment ready to respond to falling oxygen levels in watercourses, which can kill fish and other wildlife living around the water.

The agency’s head of water resources, Trevor Bishop, said: “We have increased our monitoring of rivers, lakes and ponds to help us respond quickly and protect wildlife from the impacts of drought.

“Our challenge during a drought is to balance the needs of people, business and the environment, making sure there is enough water for everyone. We will continue working closely with water companies and the public to ensure this is the case.”

The Met Office has also forecast higher temperatures across some parts of the country, forcing it to announce a first heat-health alert of the summer.

Temperatures will peak across East Anglia and south east England during Friday and Saturday, where scorching highs of 31 °C are possible.

Head of Health Forecasting at the Met Office, Wayne Elliott, said: “While there is the possibility of daytime temperatures reaching trigger thresholds, it is the night time values which are of real concern.

“High humidity and the lack of any breeze could make matters worse for people with underlying health problems.”

Chief forecaster at the Met Office, Frank Saunders, added: “There is a 60% chance of some places in East Anglia and south east England reaching 32 °C but it is important to note that it won’t be hot everywhere. Cloud and some rain are expected for a time over northern regions of the UK.”

Luke Walsh

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