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The source of the River Thames dries out for first time in history

MyLondon logo MyLondon 06/08/2022 Finn Byrne
High temperatures are expected next week and forecasters still haven't predicted any rain © Getty High temperatures are expected next week and forecasters still haven't predicted any rain

The source of the River Thames has dried up as the country struggles with the recent lack of rain. High temperatures are expected next week and forecasters predicted that it will remain dry for the foreseeable future. This drought means that even though the River Thames usually starts just outside Cirencester, it has reportedly dried up so it is now starting 8km further downstream.

Dr Rob Collins, director of policy and science at the Rivers Trust, told the Guardian: “Following the prolonged dry weather, the source of the Thames in Gloucestershire has dried up, with a weak flow now only just about discernible more than 5 miles downstream (at Somerford Keynes)."

Despite the clear drought, Thames Water still hasn't implemented a hose pipe ban. They have instead encouraged people to be cautious about their water use and follow tips, such as turning their tap off when brushing teeth. Government sources revealed on Wednesday they were frustrated that water companies were not putting hosepipe bans in place.

READ MORE: Another 5-day heatwave heading to city - this is exactly when

Thames Water has warned that a ban could be put in place. The supplier began the first stage of its “drought plan” in May but warned the next phase would be to implement a temporary use ban, including on hosepipes.

A spokesperson said: “The timing will depend on the amount of water used by our customers, which determines the speed at which reservoir storage declines, and the amount of flow in the rivers, which determines how much water we can take to refill them.”

The Met Office said on Thursday that the heatwave and dry weather show no signs of letting up, with little rain forecast for the next week and temperatures that could rise to the mid-30s.

The Met Office chief forecaster, Steve Willington, said: “Many areas of the UK, especially the south, will witness temperatures several degrees higher than average, but these values are likely to be well below the record-breaking temperatures we saw in mid-July.

“As the high pressure builds there is very little meaningful rain in the forecast, especially in those areas in the south of England, which experienced very dry conditions last month.”

Reservoirs have fallen below average for this time of year and the recent heatwave has resulted in some of the highest demand for water in over 25 years, Thames Water said.

Nine of the last 11 months have been drier than average, while in April, May and June we only received 65% of the rainfall we would expect in a normal year. Other sources we rely on such as underground aquifers and flows in the rivers are also lower than we would expect for this time of year.

A spokesperson for Thames Water, which provides water for 15 million people, told MyLondon : "Whilst we’re not currently expecting to need to introduce restrictions on water use this summer, we know the water we have stored in our reservoirs will continue to reduce, so if we do not receive around or above average rainfall in the coming months this will increase pressure on our resources and may indeed result in the need for more water saving measures including restrictions."

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