Little respite for drought-hit regions

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Rainfall in May on England and Wales was above the long term average for the month, but only by 5 per cent, the Meteorological Office said yesterday.

This has helped to keep the threat of sprinkler and hosepipe bans in the drought-hit South-east and East Anglia at bay. But while the water companies report full or nearly full reservoirs, groundwater levels remain low. For the three spring months of March, April and May taken together, cumulative rainfall in England and Wales has been only 63 per cent of the long-term average for the past 30 years. In East Anglia, the spring rainfall was just 26 per cent of the region's long-term average; the next most rainfall-starved region was south-east England where the percentage was 42 per cent. Scotland, meanwhile, has received well above average.