Ipswich: H20-no!

DROUGHT brings to mind soaring temperatures, dried-up reservoirs and cracked, dusty ground.

But despite none of these images being visible throughout the town, the reality is Ipswich is facing a “crippling drought” due to a severe lack of rainfall.

Residents will face restrictions such as hose pipe bans if substantial rainfall does not appear over the coming weeks and months.

John Clare, from Anglian Water, said although the levels at Alton Water reservoir in Holbrook are at 70 per cent capacity, the majority of Suffolk and Norfolk’s water is supplied via groundwater resources.

“Our water comes from aquifers and bore holes underground,” he added. “It is very concerning because we need rainfall over the winter to recharge those aquifers to filter down through the ground and find its way into the chalk ready for when demand goes up in the hot months.

“The recharge has not happened because it’s been so dry – we’ve had two dry winters in a row.”

Rainfall has been so low that in many areas the level of moisture in the soil is worse than in 1976 when the UK suffered one of the most severe droughts on record.

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Mr Clare said: “The drought conditions are comparable to 1976 in terms of where we are at this point of the year but what happens going forward depends greatly on rainfall and if we get any.

“We need a substantial amount of rainfall but we don’t want it all at once because it would flash off the surface into rivers and out to sea.

“We want a sustained period of rain – a good soaking – in order for the ground, which is very dry, to become saturated and for it to start percolating down.”

Anglian Water is urging people to save water, for example by turning off the tap while cleaning their teeth or taking shorter showers, fixing leaks and only washing full loads of laundry, in the face of potential shortages.

A government drought summit discussing potential water shortages was held yesterday as the south east region followed eastern England into official drought status.

Speaking after the meeting, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, pictured left, said: “Drought is already an issue this year with the South East, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall.

“It is not just the responsibility of government, water companies and businesses to act against drought. We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.”

n How do you think the county will cope in a drought? Write to Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP1 1AN or e-mail starnews@ archant.co.uk