England drought warnings: How low are water levels in your area?

·6-min read
A view of the greens and fairways on a golf course near New Romney in Kent as parched parts of England are facing a hosepipe ban amid very dry conditions and ahead of another predicted heatwave. Months of little rainfall, combined with record-breaking temperatures in July, have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs and dried out soils. Picture date: Friday August 5, 2022.
A golf course in Kent at the start of August. (PA)

Drought is expected to be declared for parts of England after the driest July since 1935 left many regions parched.

The south and east of the country have been worst impacted by the dry spell and last month's heatwave, which have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soils, hitting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.

Southern Water has implemented a hosepipe ban for customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and Thames Water, which supplies 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, has said it will bring in one in the coming weeks.

Kent and Sussex are also expected to be put under a hosepipe ban.

Watch: Drought expected to be declared in the South West tomorrow

Read more: Dramatic satellite image shows parched UK amid extreme heat warning

The conditions have led fire brigades across the country to warn about the increased fire risk.

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Jonathan Smith described the grass in the capital as a "tinderbox" and said the first week of August saw an eightfold increase in the number of open land fires they have responded to when compared to last year.

With the warm weather set to continue into next week here, Yahoo News UK breaks down the picture in each area of England using the latest data from the Environment Agency.

Kent and South London

This year saw the driest July ever recorded for Kent and South London, with exceptionally low rainfall everywhere.

  • Only 13% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • Soil moisture deficits continued to increase considerably

  • Monthly mean river flows ranged from below normal to exceptionally low

  • Groundwater levels declined at all key sites and ranged below normal to notably low by the end of July

Hertfordshire and North London

It only rained in four days in Hertfordshire and North London during July and even when it did rain levels were at record lows.

  • Only 11% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • All rivers were either recorded as 'exceptionally low' or 'normal' during July

  • Groundwater levels were generally 'below normal'

  • This July was the second driest since records began in 1891

A person lying on dead grass in Victoria Park earlier this month. (PA)
A person lying on dead grass in Victoria Park earlier this month. (PA)

Devon and Cornwall Area

The south west of England saw 'exceptionally low' rainfall in July, which was the third driest on record.

  • Only 26% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • It was the driest July in 100 years

  • Soil moisture deficit increased during the month and finished the month close to the historic maximum for the time of year

  • Rivers ranged from being either 'below normal' or 'exceptionally low'

  • Groundwater levels in every area of the region fell into recession in July

East Anglia

Some parts of East Anglia recorded their driest July on record while the rest had either their second or third driest.

  • Only 4-19% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded across different areas in the region

  • All river water levels fell in July, with all sites now 'below normal' or 'exceptionally low', with three recording their lowest ever July level

  • Reservoir levels across the region dropped quite dramatically in July, and most sites ended the month well below their operational targets

Read more: UK weather: What is an amber heat warning and how dangerous is it?

Many golf courses are now subject to hosepipe bans. (PA)
Many golf courses are now subject to hosepipe bans. (PA)

Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire Area

Although Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire saw more rainfall than the south of England in July, it was still an exceptionally dry month.

  • Only 17-49% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded across different areas in the region

  • Soil moisture levels across much of the region showed exceptionally high deficits during July

  • All river water levels fell during July with all waterways ranging from 8-63% of their long term average.

  • The region saw a clear north-south divide in the amount of rainfall, with the northern areas seeing only slightly lower levels of rainfall while the south was extremely dry

Midlands

Rainfall in the midlands in July was recorded as 'below normal' and continued a three month dry spell in the region.

  • Only 39% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • All rivers in the region were recorded as 'below normal'

  • Reservoir storage levels continued to decrease across the Midlands

North East

Rainfall in the North East was below average but considerably higher than in the south of the country.

  • Only 50%-81% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded across different areas in the region

  • Soil moisture deficits increased but some areas were only slightly below normal

  • Total reservoir stocks are below average for the time of the year

A drought could be declared this week. (PA)
A drought could be declared this week. (PA)

North West

Similar to the North East, the North West saw below average amounts of rainfall but was still much higher than the south.

  • 80% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • Soil moisture increased across the majority of the region during July

  • Rivers were classed as either 'normal' or 'notably low'

  • Reservoir storage decreased from 70% to 59%

Solent and South Downs

The Solent and South Downs region was among the driest in all of England during July.

  • Just 6% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • It was the driest July on record

  • Rivers ranged between 'exceptionally low' and 'normal'

  • Groundwater levels ranged between 'exceptionally low' and 'normal'

Much of the south of England has seen historically low levels of rainfall in recent weeks. (PA)
Much of the south of England has seen historically low levels of rainfall in recent weeks. (PA)

South East England

The South East suffered its fifth consecutive month of below long-term average rainfall by the end of July.

  • 11% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • Of the rainfall that did fall it was limited to brief showers that had limited impact on water levels

  • Soil moisture deficits rose significantly during July

  • Most rivers including the Thames recorded 'exceptionally low' levels of water

Thames Area

The wider Thames area suffered a dry July – though not as bad as in London and the South East.

  • 15% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • Soil Moisture Deficits increased across the area and were much drier than would be expected for the time of year

  • Rivers were recorded as either 'below normal' or 'exceptionally low'

  • The River Thames at Windsor and the River Thame at Wheatley recorded their lowest flows on record for July

Hosepipes are now banned across much of the south of England. (PA)
Hosepipes are now banned across much of the south of England. (PA)

Wessex

Wessex suffered its second driest July since records began in 1891, with five of its regions reporting its driest ever

  • 18% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded

  • Soil moisture deficits increased to their highest levels this year

  • All of Wessex’s rivers are experiencing below-average monthly flows

  • Reservoir storage levels dipped below 65%

Yorkshire

Yorkshire had its fifth month in a row of below-average rainfall.

  • Only 59%-80% of the long-term average rainfall for the month was recorded across different areas in the region

  • All rivers were reported to have below-average water levels

  • Reservoir levels declined each week of July and have fallen to 23% below-average