A drought has been officially declared across the whole of South West England on Tuesday following prolonged dry weather conditions not experienced in 90 years.
The Environment Agency declared that Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, south Gloucestershire and parts of Wiltshire in the south west have all received drought status.
“Despite some heavy rain over the past 2 weeks, it has not been enough to refill our rivers and aquifers River levels across our Wessex area are exceptionally low - many showing the lowest flows on record,” Chris Paul, an EA official, said.
“This places incredible strain on local wildlife and this is why we are moving to drought status. We are prioritising our local operations to minimise impacts on the environment,” he added.
As a result of two successive heatwaves and minimal rainfall, some of the UK’s major water systems have experienced low river flows. Water reservoirs have steadily been depleted and many villages across drought-hit areas were in need of water supplies.
The EA uses a four-stage process to explain and manage drought conditions. These include prolonged dry weather, drought, severe drought and recovering drought.
This year the UK has experienced its hottest and driest summer with the months of July and August recording temperatures between 35-40 degrees Celsius (95-104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Earlier this month, a drought was declared in England’s South East as well as parts of southern Wales.