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Environment Agency relaxes drought status after heavy rains

The Environment Agency has said that south west England, the Midlands and parts of Yorkshire are no longer in drought due to the recent rainfall.

It is unlikely that water companies will now impose hosepipe bans in these areas over the summer.

But parts of East Anglia and south east England remain in drought, with water company restrictions remain in place on public water use.

The Agency’s weekly drought update, published on Friday, shows that the wettest April on record and continuing rainfall in May have significantly increased river and reservoir levels, reducing pressure on the environment and public water supplies in some parts of England.

But the Agency stressed that low groundwater levels remain a concern across England, with many still around 1976 levels and unlikely to return to normal levels before winter.

In the areas of the country still facing temporary restrictions, around 50% of the public water supply is provided by groundwater sources.

Changing picture

In the week ending 6 April, the Environment Agency’s weekly water situation report showed:

  • Rainfall at between 29-68% of average for March
  • River flows below normal or lower at every indicator site in England
  • Reservoir stocks below normal or notably low at 65% of indicator sites in England
  • Groundwater levels below normal or lower at all but four indicator sites (84%), with 12 sites rated exceptionally low in England.

After the persistent and heavy rain of recent weeks, the Environment Agency’s weekly water situation report for week ending 11 May showed:

  • The most rainfall in April in over 100 years
  • River flows notably or exceptionally high at 48 per cent of indicator sites across England
  • Many reservoirs are recovering
  • Groundwater levels still exceptionally low in 42% of indicator sites in England.

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