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UK 'must adapt' to drought and flooding

The chairman of the Environment Agency, Chris Smith, has said the UK must become more resilient to weather extremes such as drought and flooding.

Parts of England and Wales were hit by flooding one in every five days last year, the Environment Agency said.

With one in four days spent in drought, following two dry winters in a row, the organisation is warning that Britain needs to do more prepare for future extreme weather.

Seaham Harbour, County Durham, as flooding hit parts of England and Wales one in every five days last year Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Record river levels were experienced at the Tyne, Ouse and Tone, experiencing their highest flows since records began, in the space of four months.

With 78 days of flooding, and 95 days of official drought, the Environment Agency is calling for an increase in small-scale water storage reservoirs, which take advantage of wet weather.


Water industry gets a drought warning

Water providers are coming under pressure from the industry watchdog to make sure drought-stricken parts of Britain are helped by areas with more plentiful supplies.

A warning sign seen at Bewl Reservoir in south-east England Credit: Reuters

Regulator Ofwat says the water industry must find creative ways of working to meet challenges posed by a bigger population and climate change. It also wants customers to be given a stronger voice on how water companies deliver services.


Water levels 'unlikely to return to normal levels before winter'

Environment Agency chief executive Dr Paul Leinster has said that despite 'drought status' being lifted, many parts of England have similar "groundwater levels" to those in 1976.

The recent record rainfall has eased pressure on water resources in some parts of England, helping levels in rivers and reservoirs to recover and providing relief to farmers, gardeners and wildlife.

Low groundwater levels remain a concern across many parts of England, with many still at a similar level to those in 1976 and unlikely to return to normal levels before the winter.

A return to a long period of dry weather would increase the risk again.

Thames Water: 'Too early to lift hosepipe ban'

England's biggest water company, Thames Water, said it could rule out applying for a Drought Order allowing it to impose more serious restrictions on water use following the weeks of heavy rain.

But the firm warned its 8.8 million customers in London and the Thames Valley that it was too early to lift the hosepipe ban imposed early in April. Richard Aylard, Thames Water's sustainability director, said:

It is a great relief for us that we can now rule out seeking a Drought Order this year. No water company wants to impose restrictions on its customers for any longer than absolutely necessary.

Despite all the recent rain, we still have a serious groundwater shortage, and we could yet have a long, hot summer, so, much as we'd love to, it would be irresponsible for us to lift the hosepipe ban just yet.

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