As Rivers Dry, UK asks, “Is this the New Normal?”
February 22, 2012
Water company figures show that London and the Thames Valley have received below-average rainfall for 18 of the last 23 months.
The amount of water in the River Lee, which runs through Hertfordshire and north east London, is only 24% of its usual level while the Kennet is only 31% of its average level.
Southern Water has applied for a drought permit to enable it to restock Bewl Water reservoir in Kent, which is only 41% full.
Drought may be the new norm for the UK, with drastic measures including growing genetically modified crops likely to be considered as part of the solution, the environment secretary has said.
With large parts of the south and south-east of England officially in drought, and areas of the Midlands at risk, Caroline Spelman warned that households across the south-east were likely to face water usage restrictions this spring, starting with hosepipe bans. Reservoirs have reached record lows in some places and rainfall would need to be more than a fifth higher than normal in the next three months to relieve the drought, but forecasters have said this is unlikely.
“Two very dry winters – this may be the new norm,” the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs told the National Union of Farmers annual conference on Tuesday. “We asked the question at the drought summit [on Monday] – what if this is what climate change means and this is the new normal?”