Drought declared in some places in England after months of scanty rainfall

Drought declared in some places in England after months of scanty rainfall
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The Environment Agency has announced that the south, southwest and southeast of England, as well as the central and eastern regions, are in drought after convening the National Drought Group of water companies, ministers and other water officials. Parts of the capital London are also affected.

The UK has experienced five consecutive months of below-average rainfall and back-to-back heatwaves, with temperatures expected to be as high as 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit) in some areas on Saturday. Only two months since the start of 2021 have seen at least average rainfall.

Southern England only received 17% of the average precipitation in July, according to the UK Met office.

“We are currently experiencing a second heatwave in parts of the country after the driest July on record. Action is already being taken by other partners, including the Government and the Environment Agency, to manage the impacts,” said Steve Double, the country’s Water Minister. In a statement. “All water companies have assured us that essential resources are still safe, and we have made clear that it is their duty to protect these resources.”

With rain and lack of heat triggering this drought, around 3.1 billion liters of water are lost every day in England and Wales due to leaks in countries’ aging infrastructure. Consumer groups and experts urged water companies to do more to fix the leaks.

The Environment Agency said in a statement that the government expects water companies to “reduce the leak and fix leaking pipes as soon as possible and take broader action alongside government policy”.

Many rivers in England are partially drying up, including the Thames that runs through London. Authorities re-oxygenating rivers and saving fish where the levels are low. The water levels in the reservoirs are also falling rapidly.
Near Kemble in Gloucestershire, a carriage crosses a bridge over a dried-up riverbed where the River Thames usually flows.

The drought declaration means that water companies and governments must implement their drought plans without permission from ministers. Companies will likely enforce hose bans already in place for millions of people, forcing them to water their gardens, avoid hose-free car washes and fill paddling pools in the ongoing heatwave. Companies can also take more water from rivers and other sources to supply supplies.

Friday’s announcement puts the declared area on amber drought alert, meaning several indicators including precipitation, river levels and flows, reservoir storage and groundwater levels are very low.

Thirteen rivers, which the Environment Agency monitors as indicative of broader conditions, are at their lowest ever recorded, while soil moisture is comparable to the end of the 1975-76 drought in the country’s far north. This drought was also triggered by a combination of extreme heat and low rainfall for months in a row.

The amber warning is one step below the more serious red alert and means stress on water resources, reduced agriculture and crop yields, local wildfires and impacts on wildlife and habitats are likely. according to a previous report by the Environment Agency.
The London Fire Brigade also warned of “chipbox dry” conditions this week and an “extraordinary fire risk” across the capital as temperatures reach 36 Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) on Saturday and grass is expected from lawns to public parks. and heather — dry and brown without normal precipitation. Parts of the capital, including houses and parks, fire struck During a record-breaking heatwave on July 19.

Concerns over food safety are growing

The UK experiences drought conditions in some areas typically every five to 10 years. The Center for Ecology and Hydrology said drought conditions could persist until at least October. The agency is only looking ahead a few months, and climate scientists have warned that Britain’s food security could be at risk if next winter is as dry as last winter.

Local residents use garden hoses to help firefighters respond to a crop fire that swept farmland and threatened local homes in Skelton, England, on August 11, 2022.

Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said there are already concerns about the impact of the drought on food supplies and affordability.

“There are a number of crops that are really struggling with the lack of rain, where they don’t usually get water from anywhere else to irrigate the fields, like the potato crop relying on rainfall. Some of the other crops even do this. Bentley told CNN, for example, from rivers to irrigate fields. “Get water, they’re really struggling right now,” he said.

“Even under the current conditions, yields will fall for some crops and the price of these things will go up and this is clearly due to the drought in the UK. But other things are going on in Europe.”

Europe shaken as repeated heatwaves cause chaos

Around 63% of lands in the European Union and the UK are under drought warnings or warnings issued by the European Drought Monitor, meaning insufficient moisture in the soil. That’s almost the size of India or the three largest states in the US — Alaska, Texas and California — combined. Drought conditions are more severe on 17% of the land, meaning the vegetation is stressed.

Experts warn that drought could continue into the fall, or even into winter, when the country receives most of its rain to store it for the drier periods of the year. Another dry winter will add even more stress to food security.

“It’ll go on until the fall and then really, we don’t know beyond that. It depends on whether we’re seeing significant rainfall — good, regular rainfall that replenishes water levels,” Bentley said. “What we don’t want right now is heavy, thunderstorms, because the ground is so dry that the water just runs off. It doesn’t wet the ground.”

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