Heavy downpours fail to wash away fears of drought in the South and East

The National Drought Group (NDG) reported has reported that water supply problems persist in the south and east of the country, despite the heavy rainfall over recent weeks.

It said groundwater levels in the south and east remain well below normal for the time of year and river flows in the chalk-dominated areas of Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire were likely to remain below normal unless sustained winter rainfall provides recovery to the groundwater.

The Environment Agency, which chairs the NDG, said the ecology in some vulnerable chalk streams is being damaged, and longer stretches than normal are drying up and for longer periods of time. It warned: “Another dry winter could lead to longer reaches of dry and fragmented river channel, increased weed and algal growth and a greater numbers of incidents on fish and wildlife.”

Meanwhile it pointed out some farmers in East Anglia had limited access to water, and said drought permits and temporary use bans on public supplies will be needed in spring unless rainfall fuels recovery.