Co-authored by Lucy Marks and Natalie Thomas
British meteorologists at the Met Office have declared this July to be the driest in England since 1935, with only 23.1 mm (0.9 inches) of rain falling across the country. It was the driest July on record in some parts of the country.
From its source in Gloucestershire in the west, the Thames flows 215 miles (356 kilometers) through the center of London before emptying into the sea in Essex in the east.
“Even though the water is extremely shallow right now, you won’t have to travel far up this stretch of the Thames before reaching solid ground. In fact, it’s the kind of ground that ought to be wet right now and forever.”
According to Naull, the shallow, warmer water lacked the oxygen necessary for fish and other marine life to thrive.
Due to extreme temperatures and a dearth of precipitation, two water providers in the south of the country have issued temporary bans on the use of hoses and sprinklers. Thames Water, which serves 15 million people in London and southeast England, also announced that it would implement similar restrictions.
On Thursday, the Met Office issued a “extreme heat warning” for certain regions of England and Wales, which will remain in effect for the next four days. Last month, when temperatures hit a record high of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the Met Office issued its first-ever warning of its kind.
Hannah Cloke, a climate expert and hydrologist at the University of Reading, has stated that low rainfall has led to low river levels and aquifers, while water has been taken out of the waterways to irrigate crops, top off drinking water supplies, and use in industry.
“If we don’t get rain in August, in fact, if we have a dry winter, then we could be in severe trouble next spring and next summer when we really don’t have any water stores left whatsoever,” Cloke said.
She argued that while curbing people’s freedom to use their hoses would be helpful in altering people’s perspectives on water use, investing in infrastructure and enacting policies to mitigate climate change would be more effective in achieving this goal.
(Liz Marks and Natalie Thomas reported; Alex Richardson edited)
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