South West England officially enters drought after driest conditions in 90 years

All parts of South West England are now officially in drought, with the region suffering some of the driest conditions for nearly 90 years.

Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, south Gloucestershire and parts of Wiltshire (called by the Environment Agency the Wessex Region) all moved into drought status on Tuesday, the government said.

Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were declared a drought in early August.

The public and businesses in Wessex were urged to “use water wisely as the dry summer is impacting the environment”.

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The environment agency said that “although the region has received some rainfall over the past two weeks, it has not been enough to compensate for the long dry spell of recent months”.

The condition reflects assessments of the region’s rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels, reservoir levels and soil dryness, as well as the impacts of these conditions on the environment.

Reservoirs and rivers have been strained by the recent heat wave and prolonged dry weather

(Getty Images)

The Environment Agency also said water companies needed to focus more on stopping leaks.

“While people have an important role to play in managing their use sustainably, the government expects water companies to act to reduce leaks and repair leaky pipes as quickly as possible,” the statement said. the agency.

The agency said it will also work with companies and individuals who have abstraction licenses allowing them to abstract water from rivers and groundwater boreholes to try to reduce demand and reduce impact. on the environment.

Environment Agency Drought Area Manager Chris Paul said: “Despite heavy rains over the past 2 weeks, it has not been enough to fill our rivers and aquifers.

Goats take shelter in the shade on the cliffs above Bournemouth beach in Dorset, one of the counties where drought has been declared


“River levels in our region of Wessex are exceptionally low – many are showing the lowest flows on record.

“This is putting incredible pressure on local wildlife and that is why we are moving to drought status. We are prioritizing our local operations to minimize environmental impacts.”

A recent Environment Agency report found this year saw the driest July in all of England since 1935, with monthly rainfall totals for the majority of catchments classed as ‘unusually low’ for the time of year.

There have now been five consecutive months of below average rainfall across all geographic regions of England and above average temperatures.

With Wessex now officially in drought, 11 of the Environment Agency’s 14 areas in England are now in drought.

The agency uses four classifications to manage arid conditions in these areas. They are: Prolonged Dry Weather, Drought, Severe Drought and Recovering Drought.

Eleven of the Environment Agency’s 14 zones are now officially in drought. They are:

  • Devon and Cornwall/Isles of Scilly
  • Solent and South Downs
  • Thames
  • Hertfordshire and North London
  • Kent and South London
  • East Anglia
  • Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire
  • East Midlands
  • West Midlands
  • yorkshire
  • wessex

Areas classified as “prolonged dry weather”:

  • Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire
  • The North-east
  • Cumbria and Lancashire are the only areas that now have ‘normal water resource’ status
  • A return to a “normal water resource” elsewhere will require a return to average or above-average rainfall over the next few months, the agency said, with expectations the drought could last well into next year. .

South West England officially enters drought after driest conditions in 90 years

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