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Environment Agency says that drought is now affecting Herefordshire
8:20am Monday 16th April 2012 in News
The Environment Agency has today confirmed that the Midlands is now officially in drought.
The decision to declare drought was taken after the driest year on record in 2011, a second winter of below-average rainfall and only just over 40% average rainfall in February and March.
The drought conditions apply to the River Severn, Trent and Wye catchments in Herefordshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire.
The Environment Agency is concerned about the effect of the drought on the environment, such as wildlife and wetlands.
Severn Trent Water, South Staffs Water and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water do not currently anticipate any impact on the public water supply, such as hosepipe bans, but are continually reviewing the situation.
The lack of rain has led to low groundwater levels and exceptionally low river levels across the Midlands. Although it has rained more rain in April, it will take months of sustained rainfall to improve underground water and river levels.
Paul Crockett, Midlands Drought Manager, 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 on 0800 807060.
“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 Environment Agency must balance the water needs of people, farmers, businesses and the environment and we are working with all sectors to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued environmental drought.”
The Environment Agency is in regular contact with the National Farmers Union, Country Land and Business Association and other organisations about the impact of the dry weather on agriculture, businesses and land management. Reduced river flow, low water levels and higher water temperatures can cause great problems for wildlife, particularly fish and wading birds.
The Environment Agency will increase river monitoring and abstraction licence inspections and will rescue fish in distress where possible.
Sections of streams, rivers and wetlands could run very low or dry leading to the loss of valuable habitats which support a unique range of wildlife.
The Environment Agency has already advised water abstractors on how they can conserve water and announced new measures to protect important wildlife sites.
It is also working to help farmers top up their storage reservoirs, to ensure there are better supplies for the summer months.