Much of England declared in drought

Much of England declared in a state of emergency cheresse


Faced with a year marked by a record water deficit for almost half a century, much of England was declared in a state of drought on Friday. 

This measure, involving measures at the local level which can go as far as restrictions on the use of water, is declared for the first time since 2018. It concerns large areas including London, the Thames Valley and much of southern, central and eastern England.

Announced after an emergency meeting convened by the environmental agency, it comes in the middle of a heat wave in the United Kingdom, the second of the summer, in a country unaccustomed to high temperatures. According to scientists, these episodes will multiply, lengthen and intensify under the effect of global warming.

An orange “extreme heat” alert has been in progress since Thursday and until Friday on almost all of southern England and part of Wales, according to UK forecaster Met Office.

If the absolute record of 40.3°C reached on July 20 is not equaled, temperatures of up to 35°C are expected on Friday, and even 36°C during the weekend.

“Water supplies are safe,” the ministry and environment agency said in a statement, adding that authorities are calling on water companies to “continue preventive planning to protect critical supplies in the event of a disaster.” 'dry autumn'.

“We are calling on everyone to manage the amount of water they use in this exceptionally dry time,” said Environment Agency Executive Director Harvey Bradshaw.

The state of drought declared on Friday aims to ensure that water companies roll out their contingency plans to deal with the lack of water, including bans on watering, washing cars and filling swimming pools for individuals. /p>

One of the water distribution network operators, Yorkshire Waters, announced such a measure from August 26, joining several other companies. In Kent, on the southeast coast of the English Channel, such restrictions came into force on Friday and London is due to follow in the coming weeks.

Stunted Beets

Some distribution companies are being criticized for failing to meet their anti-leak targets.

“Progress has been made in recent years, but there is still a long way to go,” sector regulator Ofwat said, urging water companies to “reduce leakage”, “improve their environmental performance and become more financially resilient. while presenting consumers with “affordable bills” and “helping them reduce their consumption”.

The UK had the driest July on record in some areas and the driest first half on record since 1976, with winter and spring failing to bring the usual rainfall. p>

The situation is such that the source of the Thames is dry and the river that crosses London does not begin to flow until about eight kilometers further downstream, an unprecedented situation.

The fires vegetation is multiplying, and in London parks as in much of the country, the usual green of the lawns has given way to straw yellow and dusty ground.

“We are better prepared than ever for periods of warm weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including the impact on farmers and the environment, and will take additional measures if necessary,” assured the secretary of State in charge of Water, Steve Double.

At his farm in Suffolk, about 150 kilometers from London, Andrew Blenkiron explained to AFP that he had to water “probably twice more” the potato fields, due to the “incredible heat” and the “extremely dry wind”.

Very fertile as long as it receives enough nutrients and water, the land received only about 10% of the usual rainfall in July, and less than 50% over three months.

During the height of the potato season, the farmer is forced to leave the sugar beets left to their own devices, to the point of presenting a stunted, wiry appearance where they should be the size of a handball.