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BAKU: Half of Britain is now in drought as the country faces its most severe water shortage since 1976, the Environment Agency warns Monday.
More than 35 million people are now living in drought-affected areas, with water shortages today declared across the Midlands and South West, reported Azerbaijan's AzerTac news agency.
The media reported that parts of the country are already drier than they were in the summer of 1976, when Britain experienced its worst drought for more than 100 years. The drought of 1976 led to standpipes being installed in residential streets, water supplies to businesses being rationed and schools having to close early.
The Environment Agency says similar measures are unlikely to be enforced this summer, but warns the dry conditions will damage the environment and lead to widespread water restrictions. "The lack of rain is taking its toll on the environment and farmers – causing problems for wildlife, wetlands and crop production," a spokesman said.
"Companies and consumers must all play their part by using water wisely to help conserve supplies."
According to the Environment Agency, an area is in drought when the lack of rainfall has a "material effect on the environment". Drought has already been declared across London, East Anglia and the South after the eighth-driest year on record, affecting more than 20 million people and leading to water restrictions.
Today the Environment Agency announces that 17 counties across the South West and the Midlands are now in drought, affecting a further 15 million people.
While water companies in the new drought areas say they have no plans to introduce hosepipe bans, they are urging customers to conserve water.
Dr Barnaby Smith, an executive at the Government-funded Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said that in parts of England river levels are lower than they were in April 1976. East Anglia is thought to be the most badly affected area.
"As more areas of the UK move into drought it is vital that we use less water to protect the public’s water supply in the driest areas of the country," she said. -- BERNAMA