Water in East Anglia's rivers falls 'below normal' levels as heatwave hits

The River Orwell, Suffolk, in late June 2022.

River levels in parts of Suffolk have fallen below normal, the Environment Agency says. Pictured: The River Orwell in late June 2022. - Credit: MICK WEBB

The Environment Agency says water levels in parts of East Anglia have fallen "below normal" levels following a long period of unusually dry weather.

Environment Agency chiefs have declared parts of Essex, East Suffolk and the Broadland rivers area are experiencing "prolonged dry weather" leading to lower than usual water levels.

Experts have been monitoring rivers and say their low levels are already causing problems for wildlife and river users.

It is the first time "prolonged dry weather" status has been declared anywhere in East Anglia since 2020 when it was declared in Cambridgeshire.

The status means the Environment Agency can tell people to stop abstracting so much water from rivers, and teams are prepped to help protect fish populations from low dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

Alison Parnell, a drought manager for Environment Agency in East Anglia, said: "We continue to monitor our key river, groundwater and reservoir sites using telemetry, and are liaising with water companies to understand any emerging concerns.

"We are also working with farmers, businesses and other abstractors to manage water availability and ensure that they get the water they need to be resilient while maintaining our protection of the environment.

"We are closely monitoring the developing incident and produce regular reports on the water situation, available on www.gov.uk."

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Environment Agency bosses have been meeting water companies in order to share information and request action to be taken in accordance with drought plans.

Water companies are expecting more demand in the heat and in some parts of the East people are already seeing disruption to their water supply.

In King's Lynn, North Wootton Academy and South Wootton Junior and Infant School are closed because of low water supply in the heat.

If people see any environmental impacts of dry weather, such as fish in distress, it can be reported to the Environment Agency 24/7 on 0800 80 70 60.