Meteorologists are warning that there is “little significant rain” on the horizon for dry areas of England as temperatures are expected to climb into the 30s next week.
The Met Office said parts of England could see temperatures soar into the low or mid-30s by the end of next week due to a high-pressure building area from the Atlantic to the south and southwest.
But the meteorologist said that while it could mean another heat wave, temperatures are likely to be well below the records set last month, when thermometers soared above 40°C in places.
The ongoing dry climate comes after months of little rain that, along with the heat, have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs and dry soils, putting pressure on the environment, agriculture and water supplies and fueling wildfires.
This has led to calls for action to reduce water consumption to protect the environment and supplies, and to restore the country’s lost wetlands “on a massive scale” to face a future of drier summers and droughts.
And the Thames Water desalination plant in Beckton, East London, which was built to deliver up to 100 million liters of water a day in dry weather events, has been found to be currently out of order.
Met Office Chief Meteorologist Steve Willington said: “Many areas of the UK, especially the south, will witness temperatures several degrees above average, but these values are likely to be well below the record temperatures we saw in mid-July.
“As the high pressure builds up, there is very little significant rain in the forecast, especially in the southern areas of England which have experienced very dry conditions over the past month.”
He added that weather fronts could bring some rain to the northwestern parts of the UK.
Rebekah Sherwin, deputy chief of meteorology at the Met Office, said the heat was due to rising temperatures within a persistent area of high pressure — unlike last month’s record heat wave when warm air drawn in from Europe rose. the already hot conditions in the UK. .
The early August sun does not have the warming potential of the July sun, he added.
“Both of these factors suggest that we are very unlikely to see peak temperatures well above 30 degrees. However, that would still be a hot period of time,” she said.
There are indications of a return to more changeable conditions starting in mid-August, the Met Office said.
Parts of England had the driest July on record dating back to 1836, following the driest eight-month period since November 2021 for the country since 1976.
In the face of prolonged drought conditions, two water companies, South East Water and Southern Water, have announced a hose ban, which will take effect in the coming days.
Other companies have so far delayed restrictions despite low water levels, though some say they may need to implement bans if dry weather continues.
Residents who have not yet been hit by the restrictions are being urged to refrain from using hoses to water their garden or clean their car.
But water companies have been criticized by nature activists for leaving restrictions to “the last possible moment” when rivers are in a “desperate” state, and for last-minute announcements that spur an increase in water demand ahead of the ban. of the hoses. in between.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of The Rivers Trust, said: “Every year we reach this dangerous position and at the last possible moment when the rivers are at their lowest, we discuss temporary bans on use.
“Announcing it at the last minute makes people rush to wash their cars and fill their kiddie pools, wash their dog and cause a surge in demand before the ban kicks in.
“This must happen before the rivers reach a desperate condition and there is not enough water for wildlife.”
The Rivers Trust is calling for accelerated measurement, rapid reduction of leaks, support for families to reduce water use, such as installing low-flow toilets and water culverts, and sustainable drainage, including rain gardens, swamps and permeable paving. to build local underground water supplies.
Ali Morse, water policy manager at The Wildlife Trusts, said there is a need to restore wetlands, 90% of which have been lost in the last 100 years due to development, drainage for agriculture and over-extraction by water companies.
She said: “As our climate changes and we experience more periods of drought and periods of drought, we must restore wetland habitats on a large scale.
“This will help retain water in the landscape when it is scarce, increasing river flows and providing a much-needed boost to wildlife.
“These same wetlands also retain water during high flows, benefiting people by reducing downstream flood risks.”
Morse added that wild beavers “can help do a lot of this work for us.”
“They change habitats by damming streams, cutting down trees, and ultimately creating the swamps we desperately need.
“It is crucial that the government clears the way for the return of wild beavers by giving farmers guarantees and incentives to allow these ecosystem engineers to get to work.”
Beavers, once widespread in Britain, were hunted to extinction in the 16th century for their meat, skin and glands, but are making a comeback and are now found living wild in various rivers as well as indoors.
Professor Alastair Driver, director of Rewilding Britain, said projects that restore natural hydrological processes, through measures ranging from blocking drains in the highlands to reintroducing beavers, could increase stream flows, make them more stable and keep water on land.
Restoration of swamps and swamps can also reduce the risk of wildfires or act as a firebreak, improve water quality and, by creating shade over rivers through more trees, can decrease water temperature and evaporation. .
“All of this points to potentially significant benefits in extreme weather conditions, whether it’s floods or droughts,” he said.