The Environment Agency announced today that they have removed the 'drought status' for certain areas in England. Drought status has been lifted for 19 counties in the South West, the Midlands and Yorkshire.
The wettest April on record and continuing rainfall in May have significantly increased river and reservoir levels, reducing the pressure on environment and current public water supplies in some parts of England.
However, parts of East Anglia and South East England remain in drought.
South West England, the Midlands and parts of Yorkshire are no longer in drought following persistent and heavy rain in recent weeks, the Environment Agency said today.
Drought-afflicted areas of the UK are braced for the possibility of flash floods with strong winds and heavy downpours expected to hit tonight.
Up to 40mm of rain is forecast to fall in some places, as the country's wettest week of the year so far shows no sign of relenting.
Paul Crockett from the Environment Agency explains how a "different type" of drought found in the Midlands will have little impact on the region, compared with the South East.
Water companies have said they don't expect to have to restrict customer use of hose pipes in the Midlands this summer, but they still advise people to use water wisely.
Wessex Water is managing the drought by pumping water from areas of plenty into rivers that are low in south-west England. See ITV West's interview here.
The Environment Agency has said that agriculture and wildlife could be the main victims of the worsening drought in the UK. Specifically, it warned:
- Livestock farmers and fruit, vegetable and salad growers in east, central and south-east England may face shortages
- Plant and wildlife species could be lost in freshwater and wetland sites
- Higher risk of woodland fires and serious chemical pollution in rivers
- Boating restrictions on the Oxford and Grand Union Canal
- Hosepipe bans in the South East and Anglia
ITV West reports that Wessex Water is taking measures to protect wildlife and agriculture.
The RSPB has warned that some endangered bird species are at risk because of the drought. RSPB spokesman Tony Whitehead said: "Every indicator, whether river flow or groundwater level, is telling us that this is a very serious drought that could be worse than the infamous 1976 event"
He added: "Dry conditions [are] threatening to impact this spring’s breeding season in places such as the Somerset Levels and around the Exe Estuary. These are some of the last remaining homes in our countryside for breeding water birds such as snipe, redshank and lapwing."
Wessex Water has released a statement saying that it is not considering a hopepipe ban but is taking measures to preserve water. The Environment Agency says that an additional 17 counties, including those in the South-West of Britain, are now facing a drought.