County is officially in the grip of a drought

ALTHOUGH we have experienced some April showers the county is now officially in the grip of a drought, according to the Environment Agency.

The decision to announce environmental drought status across the Midlands was taken after the driest year on record in 2011, a second winter of below-average rainfall and only just more than 40 per cent of the average rainfall in February and March.

No domestic hosepipe bans are planned but the situation will be constantly reviewed.

The news comes after Worcestershire’s farmers said they were already worried about falling water levels and a firm’s plans to share our water with other drought-hit parts of the country.

Severn Trent Water has agreed to supply Anglian Water with 30 million litres of water per day.

Worcestershire NFU chairman Clive Davies, who runs Westwood Farm, near Tenbury Wells, previously said the NFU would be keeping a close eye on the water situation.

The agency predicts it will take months of sustained rainfall to improve underground water and river levels, with the recent weather having little impact.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Midlands rural adviser Donna Tavernor said: “Recent rain may have made grass and crops look green again but it has not helped to grow grain.

“Wheat and barley, potatoes, salad and vegetable crops will all be affected. If this continues we could have drastically reduced food production.

“Maintaining supplies to livestock is crucial and let’s not forget that it can have a disastrous effect on fish, resulting in both environmental and economic problems.”

Paul Crockett, Midlands drought manager, said: “The whole of the Midlands is now in drought, reflecting the impact of the extremely dry last 18 months on the environment.

“River levels are already very low for this time of year and we expect to see some drying up.

“The Environment Agency must balance the water needs of people, farmers, businesses and the environment and we are working with all sectors to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued environmental drought.”

River monitoring and abstraction licence inspections will be increased and fish in distress will be rescued from watercourses where possible. They are appealing for people to use water wisely.

Environmental incidents can be reported by calling 0800 807060.

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