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Drought warning despite wet summer

Parts of England are still officially classed as having drought conditions despite the summer's wash-out weather, the Environment Agency said.

The agency, which monitors ground water resources, said Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, west Norfolk and parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire are still in drought following an exceptionally dry spring.

Although there are no hosepipe bans in place across the country, more than 60 farmers in East Anglia are still unable to abstract water from rivers and streams because of ongoing low water levels.

In its latest statement on the official drought conditions, which were first declared in June, the agency said this month's rainfall for central and eastern England had been around 30% of the long-term average for September, while other areas in England and Wales had received between 41% and 65%.

It said: "Despite a wet and cooler-than-average summer, we are still living with the legacy of a dry winter and very dry spring. Our water resources have not recovered, especially ground water.

"We are concerned about many areas in central England, parts of the Cotswolds and drought-affected areas in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire."

The Environment Agency's head of water resources, Trevor Bishop, stressed that the current drought status in certain areas is not having a day-to-day effect on households, but will alert water companies and other organisations to the dry conditions.

Mr Bishop said: "It was a very, very dry spring in these areas and the drought status still exists because underground resources are still in deficit after that dry spring.

"We have had a wet summer, which was miserable for many people's holidays, but most of the rain that fell evaporated or was taken up by growing plants and so made little difference to the ground water.

"If we get a normal autumn then we would like to think that we would be able to remove drought status from this area by November or December."

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