World After record heat this summer, agency declares droughts in...

After record heat this summer, agency declares droughts in much of Britain

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A man sits by a reservoir with a decreased water level and dried grass at the Walthamstow Wetlands in London, Britain, on Wednesday. Photo by Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE

Aug. 12 (BP) — Following weeks of hot temperatures — some of them record temps — officials declared droughts in several areas of Britain on Friday, including the entire eastern portion of England.

The areas of drought include the eastern section and parts of central and southern England, as well, and the dry spells could last until the fall.

Eight different areas were included in the drought declarations — Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Herts and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire and the East Midlands.

Practically, the declarations mean residents in the affected areas will be under water-use restrictions.

Britain’s Environment Agency also said that it expects below-average river flows by March after the country experienced its driest July since 1935. The agency said in a report that normal water levels aren’t expected to return until well into 2023.

“By the end of September 2022, more than half of all modeled sites will have a greater than expected chance of groundwater levels being below normal for the time of year,” the agency said in its report.

“By the end of March 2023, the majority of all modeled sites have a greater than expected chance of cumulative river flows being below normal or lower for the time of year.”

The agency said more than two-thirds of reservoirs saw a decrease of more than 10% of total capacity this summer. The Ardingly and Hanningfield reservoirs both saw decreases of more than 20%.

Soil moisture deficits have been mostly normal this summer, but some areas lost moisture at record rates. The agency’s report said soil moisture deficits nationwide were greater than the long-term average for this time of year.

The drought declarations came just a few weeks after Britain saw some of its hottest temperatures in recorded history. And Britain wasn’t alone. Much of Europe also saw record heat, including one day in June that saw a high of 107 degrees Fahrenheit in France.

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