South East Of England Officially In Drought

The UK’s Environment Secretary today announced that the South East of England is now officially in drought following the eight driest year on record. 

The announcement by Caroline Spelman was made following a summit, which brought together key players in the water industry to discuss what is already being done to tackle drought.

As parts of the UK have been affected by droughts for many months and prolonged periods of heavy rainfall in the near future are unlikely according to recent Met Office forecasts, the Environment Secretary urged water companies, businesses, and people to find ways of reducing water waste and water usage.

Speaking after the water summit today held at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Drought is already an issue this year with the South East, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall.

“It is not just the responsibility of Government, water companies and businesses to act against drought. We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.”

At the summit the Environment Agency presented an in depth analysis of the current drought situation and the subsequent effects on the environment. This then led to a focused discussion on actions that must be implemented to act against the environmental bearing of such dry conditions.

Current situation and outlook

Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and west Norfolk are still in drought.

Shropshire and Nottinghamshire in our Midlands region and Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, East Sussex and Kent in our South East region are still affected by dry weather.

In the Anglian region groundwater levels remain exceptionally low. Soils in these areas are still not wet enough for widespread recharge to take place.

The Midlands region, Anglian region and South East region all received below average rainfall for January (79 per cent, 74 per cent and 66 per cent respectively of the long term average rainfall). It has been the driest ever five month period (September 2011 to January 2012) in Anglian region.

The driest 12 months between February and January ever saw 636mm of rain – between Feb 2011-Jan 2012 we had 774mm which is the 8th driest ever.