The United Kingdom officially declared a drought in parts of England on Friday. The statement comes as families face new restrictions on water use, in a prolonged period of hot, dry weather that has fueled wildfires and tested the country’s infrastructure.
The environment agency said the drought, the first in England since 2018, means water companies will step up efforts to manage the impact of dry weather on farmers and the environment, including controlling water supplies to protect supplies.
“All the water companies have assured us that essential supplies remain safe, and we have made it clear that it is their duty to maintain those supplies,” Water Minister Steve Double said after a meeting of the National Drought Group.
“We are more than ever prepared for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation,” he said, indicating that they will take the necessary measures.
The drought follows England’s driest July in nearly 90 years, a month in which temperatures topped 40C for the first time, sparking renewed focus on the effects of climate change.
Parts of England and Wales are in the midst of a four-day “extreme heat” warning, with many areas crossing the heat wave threshold, the Met Office said, while a separate heat “health” warning was extended until Tuesday.
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