Drought officially declared

By Steve Hayes 17/04 Updated: 01/05 10:15

Buy photos » Draycote Water. Picture courtesy of Ian Rob. (s)

A DROUGHT has officially been declared in the region.

Bosses at the Environment Agency confirmed the Midlands is in drought this week after 2011 was the driest year on record.

A second winter of below-average rainfall and less than half the average rainfall in both February and March has left groundwater levels and river levels 'exceptionally low'.

Despite more wet weather in recent weeks, water chiefs are becoming concerned about the effect of the drought on the environment - particularly wildlife and wetlands.

Water companies in the area do not anticipate any immediate impact on the public water supply, such as hosepipe bans, but they are said to be reviewing the situation.

Paul Crockett, midlands drought manager, urged people to use water wisely.

He said: "The whole of the Midlands is now in drought, reflecting the impact of the extremely dry last 18 months on the environment.

"We are already seeing early impacts on the environment and a dry summer will make this worse.

"We are appealing to everyone to use water wisely and report any environmental incidents to us.

"The amount of water we use has a direct effect on the amount of water available in rivers and for wildlife. River levels are already very low for this time of year and we expect to see some drying up, which will affect people who use those waterways, as well as fish and other wildlife."

The Agency is in regular contact with organisations about the impact of the dry weather on agriculture and businesses.

Reduced river flow, low water levels and higher water temperatures can cause problems for wildlife, particularly fish and wading birds.

So representatives are increasing river monitoring and say they will rescue fish where possible.

We reported earlier this year how Severn trent was plannning to pump water to Draycote Reservoir, from the River Leam, to top up falling water levels.

Visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/drought for more information.

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