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Dire drought risk expected after abnormally dry winter

Data from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) has fought against the stereotype that it ‘rains all the time’ in England after highlighting that rivers in England face a major threat if more rain doesn’t fall within coming months. 

Looking out the window recently it may feel as though it has been raining for a lifetime, but research, which was published last week, shows rivers in parts of England and Wales ran their lowest on record last month.

a river running through a rocky area

Last week The Met Office also issued a statement claiming last month was the driest February England had experienced in 30 years.

The news has cast serious concerns as rivers and reservoirs that supply drinking water and feed crops rely on winter rain to top up before spring hits. The UKCEH have explained within their research that without ‘unseasonably sustained rainfall’ in the coming months, South West England and East Anglia are at risk of drought – a prolonged dry period in the natural climate cycle.

Speaking to BBC news, Steve Turner at UKCEH said: ‘The wet weather and snow during the first two weeks of March has led to an increase in river flows and rewetting of the soils [but] some areas of England were starting March with below-average groundwater levels or below-average reservoir stocks.’

Last summer, England and Wales faced a similar problem as temperatures hit record highs, causing drought to be declared. This issue led to hosepipe bans, farmers losing crops and some wildlife dying.  

Joan Edwards, Director of Policy for The Wildlife Trusts, told the BBC that low river flows are a serious threat to wildlife as they concentrate pollution, reduce oxygen levels and can affect fish breeding patterns.

She said: ‘Last summer’s devastating droughts should the wake-up call to protect the most precious of resources – water’.

Image: Mayukh Karmakar

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