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Drought declared in parts of England: What does it mean?

The government formally declared parts of England to be in drought on Friday as the country faces a period of prolonged hot and dry weather. Where has a drought been declared, and what happens when a drought is declared?

Members of the public stand on what was an ancient packhorse bridge exposed by low water levels at Baitings Reservoir in Yorkshire as record high temperatures are seen in the UK, Ripponden, England, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

The government formally declared parts of England to be in drought on Friday as the country faces a period of prolonged hot and dry weather. The declaration does not trigger government-level intervention, but allows water companies to go further in their steps to manage supplies. Below are some key details.

What happens when a drought is declared?

– All water companies are required to have a drought plan in place setting out what restrictions they may put in place on their customers in the event of a drought.

– Water companies will implement these plans, which will include temporary water use restrictions such as hosepipe bans to reduce the demand for water.

– They can also apply for drought orders and permits which legally allow more flexibility in managing water resources including abstracting more water from rivers, reservoirs or aquifers.

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– Restrictions can be put in place on non-essential water use including commercial car washes and swimming pools.

– Customers may be asked to access water from standpipes or mobile water tanks.

– Farmers could face restrictions on water usage for spray irrigation.


– The Environment Agency can ask the government to put in place restrictions on water use in industrial manufacturing or food processing which is having, or threatening to have, a severe impact on the environment or public water supply.

– Natural England, the government’s conservation advisory body, may restrict access to some areas such as national nature reserves if there is a risk of fire caused by the dry conditions.

Where has a drought been declared?

– Devon and Cornwall

– Solent and South Downs

– Kent and South London

– Herts and North London

– East Anglia

– Thames

– Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire

– East Midlands

First published on: 13-08-2022 at 11:36:03 am
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