London, Aug 12 (EFE).- The British government on Friday officially declared a drought in areas of southwest, south, central and eastern England, amid a prolonged period of high temperatures and low rainfall.
The announcement by the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs allows drinking water supply companies to begin imposing restrictions on water use to preserve stocks.
The Met Office on Thursday declared an extreme heat warning for England and Wales for the year’s second heatwave, which is expected to last until Sunday.
Secretary of State for Water Steve Double told reporters on Friday that the country was experiencing a second heatwave after the driest July on record in parts of the country. The government and other partners are already taking action, including the Environment Agency, to manage the impacts.”
“All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies”, he said.
“We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed,” Double stressed.
Some companies in Wales and southern England have already announced restrictions on water use, such as banning the use of hoses for gardening or washing cars.
The amber alert for the current heat wave, one below the maximum (red), will be in force until Sunday and affects, in particular, the center and south of England and part of Wales.
In some areas, temperatures may reach 37C (98.6F), which is extreme for the UK but still below those recorded in the first heat wave last month when they reached 40C.
According to the Met, there is an “exceptional” risk of fires due to very dry grasslands because of the prolonged lack of rain that has lasted more than a month. People have been advised to avoid barbecues.
The heat wave, according to the Met, may have an effect on the health of the most vulnerable, such as children and the elderly, and on public transport. EFE