Suffolk drought - but no hosepipe bans

AFTER months of below-average rainfall, it's official . . . much of Suffolk is now suffering drought conditions.That does not mean that we're likely to face supply restrictions or standpipes in the streets.

AFTER months of below-average rainfall, it's official . . . much of Suffolk is now suffering drought conditions.

That does not mean that we're likely to face supply restrictions or standpipes in the streets.

But it does mean that farmers are being advised to use less water to irrigate their crops, and that river levels are expected to fall unless there is significant rainfall over the next few weeks.

The warning was issued by the Environment Agency, which is responsible for maintaining and monitoring water levels in rivers and underground reserves.

A spokeswoman for the Agency said today: “We are measuring different things from Anglian Water and other companies.

“They may have enough in their reserves - but the river levels are low and we have concerns about them. We are warning farmers that they may not be able to use them for irrigation this year.”

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The area needed about six weeks of above average - but not torrential - rain to restore the balance.

“If it rains too hard the water runs straight off. River levels can rise for a short time, but they soon fall again. We need rain that can seep through to the aquifers underground.

“If we get too heavy rain which doesn't get into the ground, we can be left with the position where we have flooding and a drought at the same time!”

Jonathan Thompson from the Agency said: “The situation in Suffolk is not as serious as in the south east of the country at the moment, but we are still likely to run short of water this year and could be in a very serious situation next year if the dry weather continues.”

The drought has been caused by two dry winters on the trot - water companies and the Environment Agency rely on winter rains to replenish supplies.

Over the last 18 months, 15 have seen below-average rainfall and in February Suffolk had only had 74 per cent of its average rainfall.

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