Water shortages ahead despite wet winter
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Tuesday 13 April 1993
Although last winter was the wettest since 1978, with 20 per cent more rainfall than average, it is 'not enough to ensure 1993 will be free of hosepipe bans', the Met Office says. A relatively dry spring has exacerbated the problem. It says that the aquifers have started to refill. 'But it will take another wet summer and an equally wet winter to bring many of them up to safe levels.
'The seven-month period (to the end of January) saw 27 inches of rainfall over England and Wales - 20 per cent more than average,' it says.
Winter rain is vital to the replenishment of the aquifers. Mike Woodley from the Met Office's Climatological Consultancy Unit said: 'The trouble after a long period of drought is that when rain falls it is taken up by plants and is transpired, evaporates and disappears into drains. The ground itself is left quite dry below the surface.'
Two dry summers in a row have left the soil exceptionally dry. 'It is not until the ground is thoroughly saturated right through that new rainfall can reach to the deep underground aquifers. Even though the reservoirs may be full and the rivers are flowing again, it is vital for those underground resources to refill too,' Mr Woodley said.
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