Worst drought in 124 years leaves half of Britain in water crisis – ‘No doubt that a wildlife tragedy is unfolding’Posted by Jim at Tuesday, April 03, 2012
By Nathan Rao
28 March 2012
Almost half of Britain now faces devastating water shortages with supplies at critically low levels.
Weeks of virtually no rainfall have decimated river and underground sources leaving the country in the worst drought for 124 years.
The Environment Agency will today announce that parts of Yorkshire, the largest county, are officially in drought following the hottest March for seven years.
That could mean 4.7 million house holds will be hit by hosepipe bans by the summer.
And experts warn the entire country could face similar water restrictions in a matter of weeks.
Trevor Bishop, the Environment Agency’s head of water resources, said they were striving to balance the water needs of the community and of the environment.
He said: “We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought.”
Wildlife experts warn that some species, including dragonflies and water voles, could lose their habitats.
The official drought zone now includes parts of North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire, as well as a whole swathe of the country stretching from Bournemouth on the south coast to Scarborough, affecting 27 million people.
That is already more than half of England’s 52 million population.
Seven water firms in the Southeast have already confirmed restrictions will come into force from April 5 with customers facing a fine of £1,000 for using a hosepipe. Others are likely to follow suit.
British Waterways has been forced to impose lock opening times at several canals in an emergency move to preserve water.
Yorkshire Water spokesman Matt Thompson said: “We need rain, and soon, to replenish water stocks.”
British Weather Services said: “We really do need April to pour down to replenish the water reserves. We need weeks of rain but it is too early to tell whether this will arrive.”
Despite the threat of a fine, almost a fifth of home owners – 17 per cent – said they will ignore hosepipe bans, according to a survey for the DIY retail chain B & Q. Another 85 per cent said they would not report those who flout it.
By Nathan Rao
19 March 2012
Britain's drought crisis is leading to a “wildlife tragedy”, experts warned yesterday.
The lack of rain is having a devastating impact on fish, birds and other creatures, which could die without emergency action.
The Environment Agency will announce measures this week to protect wildlife during the worst drought for 124 years.
It comes as the country faces another week of mainly dry weather with temperatures expected to reach more than 62F (17C), according to the Met Office.
Environmental experts warned that some species, including dragonflies and water voles, could lose their habitats this year as rivers and lakes run dry.
The agency is to join forces with wetland managers to maintain water levels at important sites across the country.
It said ponds and shallow lakes could run dry before insects have fully formed, with frogs, toads and newts also at risk. Wetland breeding grounds for birds could run dry as well.
Already declining numbers of wading species including snipes, redshanks and lapwings, could plummet as food-rich moist ground dries up.
The dry weather has already led to the death of thousands of fish, with environment workers having to rescue distressed salmon by adding oxygen to the water. […]
Helen Perkins, spokeswoman for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “There is no doubt that a wildlife tragedy is unfolding in parts of the country and wildlife is suffering the consequences of our unsustainable water use. After such a long period of low rainfall, some species may not recover and could be lost from some rivers and wetlands if we don’t act now.
“We urgently need to change the way we use water at home and across businesses. Saving water now could save wildlife from an absolute disaster.”