Drought Declared

10 June 2011, 11:03 | Updated: 10 June 2011, 12:38

We're being asked to be careful with the amount of water we use after a drought was declared in several parts of the UK.

It follows one of the driest springs in the UK since records began in 1910, and the driest ever recorded in East Anglia.

Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and parts of Bedfordshire are now officially in a drought and farmers are voluntarily restricting the amount of water they use.

While a hosepipe ban for domestic customers is not currently being considered for these areas, because water levels in the Anglia region are still fairly high, we're still being told to use water very wisely.

Things aren't quite so good in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, where people are being warned to expect a hosepipe ban to start in their areas soon.

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The really dry conditions have caused rivers to have lower than normal water levels.  It's also left soil very dry.

The Environment Agency say they have been working closely with farmers and water companies since the dry spell began. Farmers have been taking voluntary action to ensure that they use water as effectively as possible. This includes activities such as watering only at night and reducing the number of days a week they irrigate.

Some restrictions on taking water from rivers have already been put in place. The Agency say further restrictions on taking water from rivers or the ground could be put in place if they become necessary, which could happen if rainfall continues to be low and or temperatures increase.

Graham Wilson, Planning Manager at the Environment Agency said: "What happens next is very dependent on the weather. Normal summer rain will reduce the rate at which rivers are falling and will help farmers and the environment especially, but if this is followed by a dry winter, there could be far more serious problems next year.

"Our job is to balance the needs of people, the environment, agriculture and industry so that there is enough water to go round. 'We all have a part to play in making the best efficient use of the water we have and even small changes can make a big difference to the overall picture.

"What would really help are several weeks of steady rain, even though this is never popular in the summer."

NFU East Anglia senior policy adviser Paul Hammett said farmers had been working closely with Environment Agency officials for several months and were already taking voluntary measures to maximise water resources.

"The fact that farmers have been able to retain access to water for so long to irrigate vegetable and salad crops is because they are carefully managing its use and keeping in close contact with the Environment Agency," he said.

"Moving to drought status highlights how important it is to make every drop of water count as this dry spell continues. We all need to work together- the public, farmers and industry - to get through this serious situation."