A state of drought was declared on Friday in much of England, which has had the driest start to the year in almost half a century, the British government said.
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For the first time since 2018, this measure, which can include measures at the local level up to and including the restriction of water use, is being proclaimed.
It comes in the middle of a heatwave in the UK, the second of the summer, in a country unaccustomed to high temperatures. According to scientists, under the influence of global warming, these episodes will multiply, lengthen and intensify.
An orange “extreme heat” alert has been in place since Thursday, which will remain in place across most of southern England and parts of Wales until Friday, according to the UK forecaster Met Office. If the absolute record of 40.3 °C reached on July 20th is not reached, up to 35 °C can be expected on Friday and even 36 °C at the weekend.
“Water supplies are secure,” the ministry and the environment agency said in a statement, adding that authorities are urging water companies to “continue preventive planning to protect critical supplies in the event of a disaster.”
“We are urging everyone to control water use during this exceptionally dry period,” said the Environment Agency’s Executive Director Harvey Bradshaw.
“We are better prepared than ever for periods of warm weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including the impact on farmers and the environment, and take additional measures as necessary,” said the Minister for Water. Steve Double.
The UK had its driest July in some areas on record and the driest first half since 1976.
The situation is such that the source of the Thames is dry and the river that crosses London only begins to flow about five miles downstream, an unprecedented situation.
Wildfires are on the rise and in London parks, as in much of the country, the usual green lawns have given way to a straw yellow and dusty ground.