Wildlife Fear As Drought Declared

Devon is in a drought - and that's official.

It's been the driest period for almost a hundred years  and the lack of rain is taking its toll on the environment causing problems for wildlife and wetlands. 

Low river levels and shrinking wetlands means fish could suffer and some animals will find it harder to find food.

There have been two successive dry winters in the South West and 16 of the last 25 months have had below average rainfall. The cumulative rainfall total since October 2010 is the lowest for the same period since 1921/22 and is the second driest on record. 

Since October 2011 there has been only 71 per cent of the rainfall normally expected. In February, it was less than 40 per cent and in March just 35 per cent. 

All river flows are now much lower than expected for the time of year. Groundwater levels are also very low and starting to impact on rivers, such as chalk streams, with flows more typical of May than April. 

Our water supplies won't be affected and there'll be no hose-pipe ban because South West Water has been abstracting water from the rivers throughout the winter to fill the reservoirs.  But we're being asked  to use water more sparingly because the amount we use has a direct effect on the amount of water available in rivers and for wildlife. 

The Environment Agency’s latest drought prospects report can be viewed online at: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/drought/31749.aspx 

It wants us to watch out for the water environment and wildlife and to report any concerns on the incident hotline – 0800 80 70 60. 

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