Water shortages unlikely despite hot summer forecast

England's water resources have recovered well from last year's drought meaning water shortages are unlikely to follow this summer, despite forecasted hot weather, water companies have said.

The Met Office predicted periods of “very hot weather” for the coming summer as it issued its summer 2007 forecast this week, but said that summer rainfall patterns are still uncertain. Meanwhile, reservoir levels and underground water sources were restored thanks to above-average winter rains for the first time in two years.

“Nearly all company reservoirs are now at average or above average levels for this time of year,” said UK Water, the group representing British water companies.

The outlook this year is very different to last summer’s when soaring temperatures hit England after two extremely dry winters, Water UK stressed.

But temperatures are likely to soar again this summer, with a “high probability” of exceeding the 1971-2000 long-term average of 14.1 degrees C, the Met Office said:

“Through the summer we can experience periods of very hot weather which has implications for people’s health.” In the UK more than 2,000 people died in the heat wave of 2003 due to the heat, while in France the death toll was ten times higher at 20,000.

Dr Tish Laing-Morton, clinical director at the Met Office, said: “The very old and the very young are particularly susceptible to extreme heat, particularly when very warm nights prevent the body from recuperating from very hot days. Also, people who suffer with breathing difficulties are likely to find their symptoms heightened.”

The Met Office will update its outlook for both temperatures and rainfall on 1 May.

Goska Romanowicz

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