Record low rainfall means England could be in drought for nine more months

England could be in drought beyond spring 2023 after record low rainfall has left the country short on water, ministers have warned.

Though rainfall levels were average across most of the country in September, this was not enough to dampen the soil and refill reservoirs after a dry and scorching summer.

Consistent above average rainfall is needed throughout autumn and winter to bring England out of drought, and this is not currently likely.

Millions across the country have been under a hosepipe ban for months after a record hot and dry summer, with some parts of the country recording their lowest levels of rainfall since records began.

It is likely these bans will become more severe, as the Environment Agency noted that the water companies were preparing to implement further phases of their drought plans, which means stricter measures.

Water companies may put in place drastic water saving measures, banning all non-critical use. This means ponds and swimming pools would be banned from being refilled, and non-residential buildings would not be able to be cleaned.

The news from the National Drought Group (NDG) will be particularly problematic for farmers, who were hoping to refill reservoirs so they could plant and harvest crops into next year.

The Environment Agency chief executive and NDG chair, Sir James Bevan, said: “Our lives, livelihoods and nature all depend on one thing – water.

Climate change and population growth mean we need to take action now to ensure we have enough over the coming decades to manage everyday supplies, and more intense drought events.

“We have a plan to do that and delivering it will require all of us to work together – government, water companies, regulators, farmers and businesses, and each of us as individuals. The Environment Agency is determined to do its part.”