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Forecasts for a hot summer means Kent could face drought and water shortages

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

Kent could be heading for a drought even though it has been raining this week.

Experts fear there will be a water shortage this summer due to forcasted warm weather after a dry winter.

Kent County Council's senior emergency planning officer Tony Harwood explained despite having a "fairly wet" autumn, there has not been enough rain in the winter to refill the rivers.

Bewl Reservoir in Kent, during drought. Pic - Sam Underwood, Southern Water
Bewl Reservoir in Kent, during drought. Pic - Sam Underwood, Southern Water

There was only 44% of the expected average rainfall in January which was followed by a hot spell in February.

At the Kent flood risk management committee on Monday, he said: "We've got a little bit of rain coming this week but the ground is relatively quite dry.

"Our concerns are erring on the side of concerns around drought rather than flooding at the moment."

Farmer Andrew Lingham seeing the effects of the water shortage on his crops in Court Farm, The Street, Upper Halling. Picture: Peter Still.
Farmer Andrew Lingham seeing the effects of the water shortage on his crops in Court Farm, The Street, Upper Halling. Picture: Peter Still.

He explained during the heavy rain in November, water was diverted from rivers into reservoirs but "ground water and river flows are really at the bottom of normal ranges" due to less rain this winter than average.

Mr Harwood added: "We all must remain vigilant because the weather is doing some quite strange things at the moment and we need to insure we plan appropriately."

However Mark Rogers from the Met Office explained hotter weather during the summer brought on by climate change could lead to torrential storms.

Drought could lead to hose pipe bans!
Drought could lead to hose pipe bans!

He said: "Hotter drier summers sound ideal but that causes us a few issues rainfall wise.

"That doesn't rule out wet spells during the summer but what is more likely to happen is we end up with more thunderstorms and torrential downpours.

"The warmer the atmosphere, the more water it can hold and the more torrential the thunderstorms become."

He warned this could lead to even more floods in the county if carbon emissions are not reduced.

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