More rain needed despite wet weather, say water companies
- Credit: Archant
It might have been raining regularly since September - but water chiefs are looking for the wet weather to continue until March to replenish parched groundwater reserves.
Both Anglian Water and the Environment Agency are pleased with the wet autumn we had and the damp start to December - but it has only started to put back water into underground aquifers that have been suffering from below-average rainfall since early 2017.
Anglian Water warned at the end of the summer that unless we had significant rainfall over the autumn, winter and early spring it was likely that there could be some water restrictions next year.
A spokeswoman for the company said it was pleased to see the rain, adding: "It has started to replenish the groundwater, but levels are still quite low.
"We still need to see at least average, if not a bit above average, rainfall to make sure these reserves are where we want them at the start of the summer."
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She said reservoirs were looking quite healthy - Alton Water is at 82%, which is only marginally down on what the company sees as ideal and others are full.
Affinity Water, which supplies homes and businesses in much of Essex, has also warned of the possibility of restrictions next summer if it doesn't keep on raining during the winter.
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A spokeswoman from the Environment Agency said: "November was the third month in a row that East Anglia received above average rainfall. Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk received more than 116% long term average rainfall. The rainfall has reduced the soil moisture deficit which means groundwater is recharging.
"We will remain in drought conditions until the groundwater has recharged sufficiently and are at or near normal levels. If the present rainfall averages continue this could mean we come out of drought as early as March next year."
Forecaster Fred Best, from Norwich-based Weatherquest, said across the region rainfall totals had been about 20% above the long term average during the autumn.
He said: "That came after a pretty dry year apart from occasional wet months - and in fact it has been dry for some time. There will be some more rain at times over the next few days, but it looks as if it might become drier at the end of the month."
It was too early to say with confidence what the long-range weather was likely to be in the area, he added.
However some other commercial weather services have published long-range forecasts which suggest that the rest of the winter will be slightly milder and wetter than average.