Heavy rain takes 19 counties out of drought

A child examines low water level in the Bewl Water Reservoir

Nineteen counties across Britain are no longer in drought due to the wettest April on record, the Environment Agency has said.

The organisation said that South-West England, the Midlands and parts of Yorkshire have had their “drought status” removed due to torrential rain over the last six weeks.

The lifting of drought status follows the highest level of monthly rainfall in over 100 years, the Environment Agency said.

It said that the heavy rain has “significantly increased” river and reservoir levels in the counties in question. The rain has reduced pressure on the environment and public water supplies.

However the removal of drought status on many parts of the UK does not affect the 20 million Britons who are currently hit by hosepipe bans.

The South, East and South-East of England remain in drought and these are the only areas where a hosepipe ban has been put in place.

Dr Paul Leinster, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “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.”

He said that the agency will “continue to keep a close eye on the situation”. He added that low groundwater levels remain a “concern” and are unlikely to return to normal levels before this winter.

Groundwater levels in many parts of the UK are still at a similar level to 1976, the last time the UK was hit by such a severe drought, said Dr Leinster.

The agency warned that a return to dry weather could lead to restrictions for farmers and problems for the environment later in the year.

According to the Environment Agency, the 19 areas that are no longer in drought are South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Bristol.

Parts of Gloucestershire, parts of Hampshire, most of Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire are also out of drought.

All of these counties bar South and East Yorkshire were only placed under official drought status on April 16, less than a month ago.

South and East Yorkshire were placed in drought on March 28.

The agency said that it is “unlikely” that water companies will now impose hosepipe bans in these areas over the summer.

Swathes of the UK were put on official drought status after one of the driest ever spells on record.

In the first week of April research by the Environment Agency showed that rainfall in March was only at between 29 to 68 per cent its average level for that month.

River flows, reservoir levels and groundwater levels across the UK were all below normal levels, the agency said.

However by the end of this week research by the agency showed that the situation had reversed.

River flows were “notably or exceptionally high” at almost half the relevant sites across the UK while many reservoirs are “recovering”, the agency said.


This is a copy of the full article provided by Telegraph

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