Are we in for a sum­mer drought?

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

The dri­est april for 20 years has left uk rivers parched, rais­ing con­cerns we could be fac­ing an­other 1976-type drought. Worst af­fected are some of our clas­sic chalk­streams. Bri­tain has 80% of the global to­tal and they’re fed by streams known as win­ter­bournes, which only flow in win­ter and spring. On the Wilt­shire Wy­lye, they haven’t flowed at all and, on the up­per avon, there’s al­most no ground wa­ter after below-av­er­age rain­fall for eight of the past nine months. the Chess, in Buck­ing­hamshire, has dried up com­pletely and even the world-fa­mous Itchen in hamp­shire is dry at its source.

the river Colne has dried up in its up­per reaches after just 7mm of april rain—15% of the 131-year av­er­age.

‘It’s not so much a case of streams dry­ing up, but that many ground­wa­ter-fed sys­tems are at rock bot­tom when they should be at their peak,’ ex­plains andy thomas of the Wild trout trust. he warns that low flows could also de­lay the mi­gra­tion of sal­mon smolts, which de­pend on strong spring flows to get them to sea. an all-party group of mps has now called for ‘a com­plete over­haul of the uk’s out­dated wa­ter ab­strac­tion regime’. Gra­ham Mole

The River Eden in Cum­bria dis­plays low wa­ter lev­els, as fears grow that there is the prospect of a sum­mer drought fol­low­ing one of the dri­est win­ters in two decades

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