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UK faces drought in August after extreme heat | drought

Experts said the UK faces the prospect of declaring a drought in August, warning of a possible potential failure after a period of Significantly dry weather And intense heat.

A Hosepipe ban could be imposed on families across the UK and farmers could be restricted from watering their crops if the government implemented a drought plan.

Tuesday, The National drought The group, made up of government departments and affected groups, will meet to discuss a strategy to deal with the very dry conditions the UK is facing.

The meeting was supposed to take place in October to plan for 2023, but conditions became so dry that it was brought forward.

past weeks A heat wave broke a record Soil baking, prompting farmers to increase irrigation for crops and increase the rate of evaporation from waterways.

Farmers can be prevented from irrigating their crops in the crucial period of August-September, when root vegetables such as potatoes are under particular threat. Crops can fail due to lack of water, and dry soil can make harvesting difficult.

“We have no time to lose. The water situation is very, very dangerous for farmers – there are implications for costs and viability of crops,” said Minette Butters, president of the National Farmers Union.

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Farmers may face huge costs if their crop yields fall due to dry conditions, and many have already signed contracts with supermarkets and other suppliers, meaning they may have to bear these costs on their own.

“Who is going to pay these additional costs? Everyone in the supply chain, the retailers, should make sure they pick up the tab for rising costs,” said Butters. “Farmers have already signed their contracts with the supermarkets. They need others in the chain to come in and take these additional costs in. account.”

Experts from the Bureau of Meteorology and Environment Agency They’re bracing for more heat waves this summer as it’s still very hot in Europe, and this is likely to carry over to the UK.

In Scotland, there has been a warning of the dangers of water scarcity in the wake of hot, dry weather with restrictions on recalls being considered to mitigate the risks. There is no representation from Scottish bodies in the National Drought Cluster and any hose ban decisions will be made locally.

On the continent, droughts have already been declared, with Italy declaring a water security emergency and Spain and Portugal facing pressure.

“This really highlights the futility of simply relying on imports; other European countries are in a much worse situation than we are now,” Butters said. “We have taken our water supplies for granted in this country for too long. We don’t store and transport water the way that we We should be on it. Water Food security is closely related, and food security is very important. We cannot see that the farmers do not have a viable crop.”

The UK’s two most recent droughts were announced in 2018 and 2011, but extremely dry conditions and hot weather mean the government is preparing for an even worse outcome this year.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We have seen prolonged dry weather this year which has resulted in exceptionally low river flows across much of England, and reservoir levels have fallen across Yorkshire, central and southwest England. Recent higher temperatures will increase the potential for local impacts and put pressure on the environment. Aquatic environment and wildlife.

Environment Agency teams monitor river levels and respond to environmental incidents, and we work with water companies to manage water resources and take precautionary measures to ensure the needs of water users and the environment are met. Water companies are also enacting their own drought plans as a routine precaution to maintain water supplies. “

Professor Chris Penny, a water engineer who was former head of the Chartered Foundation for Water and Environmental Management, said such droughts can often be caused by climate change.

He explained: “Climate change in England is likely to lead to dry summers and wetter winters. However, as temperatures rise, dry periods in the summer are likely to last longer and thus increase the risk of drought, particularly in one of the critical summer seasons.

Some water companies have fewer tanks than usual. Some may call for a ban on non-essential use. As temperatures rise, there is more evaporation from the soil and vegetation. This means that the next time it rains, more rain will be needed to raise the water content in the soil to field capacity. This will delay the start of increased river flow in the fall and will in particular delay the recharge of the aquifers that provide water supplies to some areas of the country.”

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