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River Severn officially in Drought

  • Neil
  • 19 Apr 2012
  • General
  • Back
Seventeen counties in South West England and the Midlands have now been officially classed as in drought status, after two dry winters have left rivers and ground water levels extremely low.  While public water supplies in some areas such as Severn Trent are unlikely to be affected, the lack of rain is taking its toll on the environment and farmers,and most likely boaters too – causing problems for wildlife, wetlands, crop production and maybe even navigation. The Environment Agency is urging businesses, water companies and consumers to all play their part by using water wisely, to help conserve precious water supplies.

Worcestershire, along with other counties of the Severn and the Midlands, were added to the affected areas this week. While rain over the spring and summer will help to water crops and gardens, as well as raise river levels for short periods of time, it is unlikely to improve the underlying drought situation. It was hoped that a prolonged period of rainfall between October and March – known as the winter recharge period – would prevent such a widespread drought, but parts of England received less than 60 per cent of the average winter rainfall, and water supplies have not been replenished.


There is hope for a steady, rainy winter in 2012/13 to restore rivers and groundwaters. The Environment Agency is working with the water industry to put plans in place now to deal with the prospect of a third dry winter. Water companies are looking at where they may be able to get more water, options to share water across company boundaries and how they can reduce leakage further. The Agency is urging all water users to save water now, to help prevent more serious shortages and environmental impacts next year.  


The Environment Agency Drought Map shows all of the affected counties.


The South West region covers:

  • Cornwall
  • Devon
  • Dorset
  • Somerset
  • Bristol
  • South Gloucestershire
  • Parts of Hampshire
  • Most of Wiltshire.

The Midlands region covers:

  • Nottinghamshire
  • Leicestershire
  • Derbyshire
  • Staffordshire
  • West Midlands
  • Warwickshire
  • Shropshire
  • Worcestershire
  • Herefordshire
  • Gloucestershire

As boaters, let's hope that over time the various agengies and water supply companies can finally work together to find innovative ways to both save and collect the countries apparently diminishing rainfall.