An official drought status has been confirmed today for parts of Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire by Defra and the Environment Agency.
The move is as a result of the driest spring since records began in 1910, leading to rivers with lower than normal water levels and very dry soil. Lincolnshire, the Cambridgeshire fens, and Northamptonshire are currently of most concern but river levels are also generally falling in the rest of the East of England.
Some restrictions on taking water from rivers have already been put in place. The move to drought will not change this, but river and groundwater levels will be closely monitored by the Agency. 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. Restrictions in the area, and the greater surrounding area include the River Bain near Horncastle and the River Lymn, north of Spilsby.
Water companies are not currently expecting to restrict domestic water supplies this summer, but are asking their customers to use water wisely. Many people are already putting water saving measures in place at home such as using watering cans instead of hosepipes, showering instead of bathing and using a bowl of water to wash vegetables.
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!”