Half of UK officially in drought

Monday 16th Apr 2012 by theWeather Club

According to the Environment Agency the drought that started in the South east of the country is now officially affecting half of the UK. Seventeen new counties have been given drought status by the agency, adding areas of the Midlands and South-west of the country to the already drought-stricken South-east and East Anglia. Some of the new counties added are Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands and Warwickshire. The Environment Agency believe that the public in the newly affected areas are unlikely to face water restrictions this summer, but the lack of rain is beginning to take its toll on wildlife, wetlands and farming.

However, even though the government agency has no plans at present to impose restrictions such as hosepipe bans, it is urging all its customers to save water as much as possible. It has pointed out that while reservoir levels in some of the newly notified areas remain satisfactory, the groundwater levels in the aquifers from which they extract much of their water are below average for the time of year.

The Agency is warning that the drought could last beyond Christmas. This is because while any rain falling over the spring and summer will help to water crops and gardens, it is unlikely to improve the underlying situation as it is the winter rainfall that builds up much of the water supplies that the country depends on. “A longer-term drought, lasting until Christmas and perhaps beyond, now looks more likely, and we are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought,” Trevor Bishop, the Environment Agency's head of water resources, said. “While we've had some welcome rain recently, the problem has not gone away, and we would urge everyone - right across the country - to use water wisely now, which will help to prevent more serious impacts next year," he added.

While there are hopes that a steady rainy winter in 2012-13 will restore rivers and groundwaters, the Agency is taking no chances and is working with the water industry to put plans in place to deal with the prospect of a third dry winter.