Are we in for a summer drought?
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 an all-party group of mps has now called for ‘a complete overhaul of the uk’s outdated water abstraction regime’.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