Environmental experts say while rain over the spring and summer will help water crops and gardens, it is unlikely to bring an end to the drought.
- It was hoped that a prolonged period of rainfall between October and March - known as the winter recharge period - would prevent widespread drought
- But parts of England received less than 60% of the average winter rainfall
- Water supplies have not been replenished
– Caroline Spelman MP, Environment Secretary
As more areas of the UK move into drought it is vital that we use less water to protect the public's water supply in the driest areas of the country. It is for everyone to share the responsibility to save water. We are asking everyone to help by using less water and starting now.
Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency, said: "A longer term drought, lasting until Christmas and perhaps beyond, now looks more likely.
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."
Environmental experts say the extended period of dry weather has left some rivers in England "exceptionally low". However, the Environment Agency is stressing that public water supplies are unlikely to be affected.
A drought map shows how the Midlands and the South West are now affected. You can take a look at the Environment Agency's map here.
The Environment Agency has declared official drought zones for a further 17 English counties today:
- West Midlands
- South Gloucestershire
- Parts of Hampshire
- Most of Wiltshire