England is facing the prospect of a drought experts said it was unprepared for after it emerged that the source of the Thames had dried up further downstream than before, Reuters reported.
The country’s Met Office said England experienced its driest July since 1935 with average rainfall just 35% of the month’s average at 23.1 millimetres. Some parts of the country even witnessed the driest-ever July. During the July heatwave, England faced power outages, damage to airport runways and railway tracks, and several of blazes in London, where the fire brigade faced its busiest week since the end of World War Two.
The Thames stretches 356 kilometres across the south of England from Gloucestershire in the west through London before entering the sea at Essex on the east.
The natural spring that supplies the river dries up most summers. This year, however, the dry riverbed reached significantly further downstream than previous years, conservation experts said.
“The Thames would normally be at its source — and there’s a nice pub next to it – would be about 15 kilometres back upstream,” Rivers Trust Engagement Officer Alisdair Naull.
Naull said the shallow, warmer water contained less oxygen that fish and other wildlife needed to thrive.
David McMeeking, who manages The Thames Head Inn upstream, close to the river’s source in Gloucestershire, said he was concerned about the effects that climate change would have on the river.
“It is still the official source of the Thames so the stone will always be there, but whether or not the water comes through is another issue,” said McMeeking.
The unprecedented heat and a lack of rainfall forced two water companies in southern England to temporarily ban the use of hosepipes and sprinkler systems. Thames Water, which supplies water to 15 million customers in London and southeast England, said it planned to introduce similar curbs.
On Thursday, a four-day ‘extreme heat’ warning came into effect in several parts of England and Wales. Such a warning was issued by the country’s Met Office for the first time ever last month when temperatures breached 40°C for the first time.
With inputs from Reuters