this is the latest briefing from Environment Agency outlining the current water situation hope you find it useful
Prolonged Dry Weather in East Anglia Area.
15 July 2022
Purpose of this briefing
East Anglia is experiencing a period of Prolonged Dry Weather. The purpose of this
briefing is to explain where is affected, to outline what this means for the
community, and what actions we are taking to minimise damage to the
Potential impacts on the environment and our response
A lack of water in the environment can have severe impacts such as rivers and
other habitats drying out which can lead to fish in distress, reduced river flows can
exacerbate small pollution incidents causing more damage than at times of normal
flow. Our officers assess reports of such incidents and will decide how best to
respond and deal with the situation.
As we move into Prolonged Dry Weather, we increase our monitoring of the
environment using our telemetry systems and physical observations.
Our teams prepare to respond to reports of environmental incidents because of
Prolonged Dry Weather, this could include river pollution and/or fish mortalities.
We increase our communication with partners and the public and encourage
everyone to be careful in their use of water.
Background: Prolonged Dry Weather
Winter is when we usually receive rainfall that recharges groundwater and provides
flows in our rivers. Last year this recharge was modest and so far, 2022 has been
dry; in the last three months we have only received between 54%-69% of long-term
average rainfall across East Anglia.
This has led to low or notably low river levels which puts a strain on water
availability for people, agriculture, business, and the environment. A period of
prolonged dry weather can lead to drought conditions.
We have been monitoring the situation for a number of weeks now, reviewing the
range of dry weather indicators, including groundwater levels, surface water flows
and impacts on the environment.
The reduced rainfall experienced over the last three months and the recent increase
in temperatures have all contributed to a deterioration in surface water flows. We
have started to record, and have received reports from others, of environmental
issues exacerbated by low river flows and the deterioration in water quality.
Areas affected include: the Upper Bedford Ouse, Cam & Ely Ouse, Old Bedford &
Middle Level, Broadland (excluding the rivers Wensum and Bure), East Suffolk, and
Essex catchments in East Anglia Area.
Map of Prolonged Dry Weather catchments in East Anglia
We are responsible for safeguarding water resources in the East Anglia area and
protecting the environment. We have a role in making sure that water companies
can secure public water supplies but must also ensure that they cause no
unacceptable environmental damage. Other water users (agriculture and industry)
make use of raw water directly from rivers or underground strata and we have a
duty to ensure that they too avoid causing environmental damage. We must ensure
that water is used efficiently by water companies and other users. We plan and
manage how much water is taken from rivers and underground through a system of
We are working with partners, including Internal Drainage Boards, farmers, and
water companies, to manage abstraction and, where necessary, we are asking
abstractors to reduce the amounts they take, in accordance with their licence
If the hot and dry period persists, we cannot rule out imposing more formal
restrictions to abstraction if required.
Working with water companies
We are liaising with water companies to share information on water availability,
operational activities and to understand any emerging concerns.
Importantly, the water companies who operate and supply water in this area have
assured us that for this summer, water will be available without restrictions.
However, they are keen to emphasise their own messages regarding the careful
and efficient use of water, and to make sustainable water savings, not just now but
also on an ongoing basis.
Working with abstractors
We are working with farmers, businesses, and other abstractors to manage water
availability and ensure that as far as possible they get the water, they need to be
resilient while maintaining our protection of the environment.
Abstraction licence holders in the most affected areas may already have received
notice to restrict the amount of water they take as described in their licence
conditions. This may take the form of taking reduced quantities or only abstracting
at times, depending on local circumstances. We are encouraging farmers to check
their abstraction licenses to make sure they are fit for purpose to meet their current
and future water needs.
We can all do our part to use water wisely and manage this precious resource, and
there are useful water saving tips for us all at Waterwise.
We encourage the public to report sightings of fish in distress or other impacts on
the environment by telephoning our 24hr Incident Hotline: 0800 80 70 60.
If you would like further information
Simon Hawkins, East Anglia Area Director
Iceni House, Cobham Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP3 9JD or
Brampton Office, Bromholme Lane, Brampton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28
More information can be found here: