Water drought UK: London officially declared as ‘in drought’ after Met Office weather heat alert scorches city

London has been officially declared as “in drought” by the Environment Agency.

The whole of London has officially been declared as “in drought” by the Environment Agency, due to a lack of rainfall throughout the summer.

Many of the city’s great parks have turned to dust, with a small smattering of yellowed grass covering Hyde Park, St James’ Park and Victoria Park.

London’s river and groundwater levels are below average and reservoir levels have fallen significantly, and a Met Office amber heat alert is in place until Sunday.

Parliament Square - usually grass covered - has been dust for most of the summer due to the hot weather and drought. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Now the government has declared that huge swathes of England - including the whole of the capital is officially “in drought”.

This means water companies have fewer legal barriers for rationing water, including hosepipe bans and washing cars with tap water.

The orange areas of England have been officially declared as in drought. Credit: EA

Where has been officially declared as ‘in drought’?

The National Drought Group has announced that eight parts of the country are in drought - which includes the whole of London.

They are:

  • Devon and Cornwall;
  • Solent and South Downs;
  • Kent and South London;
  • Herts and North London;
  • East Anglia;
  • Thames;
  • Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire;
  • And East Midlands.
Victoria Park has turned to dust during the drought. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

What drought measures will be introduced in London?

While moving to drought status does not automatically trigger action, the Environment Agency and Thames Water will implement stages of pre-agreed plans.

It makes it easier for Thames Water to bring in a hosepipe ban and other measures. The water company has already said one will be introduced “in the coming weeks”.

In a statement, it said: “Given the long term forecast of dry weather and another forecast of very hot temperatures coming this week we are planning to announce a temporary use ban in the coming weeks.”

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged people to save as much water as possible at home. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

What should Londoners do in drought?

The mayor of London has urged people to save as much water as possible at home.

Sadiq Khan said: “The National Drought Group has announced that parts of the country have moved into drought today, and I’m urging all Londoners to do all they can to help our city navigate this exceptionally dry spell.

“London’s river and groundwater levels are below average and reservoir levels have fallen significantly. This has been compounded by the prolonged dry weather and the heatwaves we’ve seen in recent weeks.

“While I am urging water companies to act swiftly to stop the leaks which are leading to millions of gallons of water being wasted every day, Londoners can also play their part by saving water as much as possible at home.

“We need everyone to pull together to help conserve this precious natural resource.

“I will remain in regular contact with Thames Water to ensure Londoners are fully supported during these challenging times.”

The blackened remains of Wennington village, Havering, after a huge grass fire on London’s hottest day in history. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

While the water minister Steve Double said that essential supplies of water are safe.

He explained: “We are currently experiencing a second heatwave after what was the driest July on record for parts of the country.

“Action is already being taken by the government and other partners 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.

“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.”

What are the rules of a Thames Water hosepipe ban?

Sprinklers and irrigation systems are also not allowed under the rules.

During the length of a ban, you cannot use a hose to:

  • Water a garden or plants;
  • Fill a paddling or swimming pool;
  • Clean a car;
  • Fill a pond;
  • Or to clean windows.