CONSUMERS THIS week faced calls from water companies to conserve water as supplies ran low following a record summer dry spell.
A Met Office spokesman said that almost all of Britain was affected, with rainfall 15% to 20% the normal rate since July.
High pressure and an unusual absence of Atlantic low pressure weather systems were the cause.
'We have had this phenomenon before but I don't think we have had it for such a sustained period of time, ' he added.
Thames Water said it had experienced the lowest rainfall since records began in 1897.
Only 12mm, or 20% of the average, fell in August, with 15mm or 25% of average falling in September. By mid October, only 7mm had fallen, 11% of the average expected for the month.
For the first time since 1997, Thames Water is using an artificial aquifer in north London to augment supplies. 'We are pumping around 140M litres a day from 25 boreholes into water treatment plants and have spent around £6.5M this year to increase the capacity of boreholes, ' a spokesman said.
Southern Water said aquifer levels were well below normal. Rain for the year is only 63% of average, while in September only 11mm fell compared to a normal 75mm.
Its largest reservoir, Bewl Water on the Kent/Sussex border, is at only 55% of its 31,000M litres capacity, against a usual 80% level at this time of the year.