The recent wet weather sweeping the UK has done little to restore groundwater supplies and relieve drought conditions, the Environment Agency has warned.
Its latest drought management briefing, released on Friday, confirms that groundwater levels remain low, with 14 sites now exceptionally low for the time of year, an increase of one on its last situation report.
The briefing notes that it has been a very wet week across England and Wales, with especially heavy rainfall in southern England. The South East and South West Regions received 42mm and 55mm of rainfall respectively; as a result soil moisture deficits have decreased in all regions.
River flows are now normal for the time of year at over half its indicator sites but groundwater levels remain low and many reservoirs are still short of water. Stocks are now normal for the time of year at about a third of reported reservoirs, with four now exceptionally low for the time of year.
South East Water’s Ardingly reservoir is currently at 56% capacity and Southern Water’s Bewl Water is at 53% capacity.
“We’ve had a lot of rain this past week, which is a welcome boost for farmers and gardeners, and has delayed the need for water companies to apply for further drought permits,” said Environment Agency national drought co-ordinator Polly Chancellor. “But with the dry soils most of this rain is either soaked up or, worse still, runs off quickly causing flooding, as we have seen in some areas this week.
“At the moment most of the rain is not reaching down far enough to top up groundwater, which is what we really need to make a difference to the drought. So it is still important that we all continue to use water wisely.”
The south west of England and the Midlands remain in environmental drought. East Anglia, the south east of England and south and east Yorkshire remain in drought. Temporary use bans for customers of seven water companies remain in the south east and east of England.