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UK drought: Millions face hosepipe ban as swathes of England are officially in drought

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By Ben Turner  & Reuters
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Hospital staff in London enjoy their lunch break on a small green grass patch, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Hospital staff in London enjoy their lunch break on a small green grass patch, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.   -   Copyright  Frank Augstein/AP

Millions of people face water usage restrictions in the UK after a drought was officially declared across large parts of the country. 

The Environment Agency confirmed today that areas of southern, central and eastern England are in drought status

It comes amid heatwave conditions in the UK with temperatures expected to reach 35C over the weekend. 

Yorkshire Water, which services 2.3 million households and 130,000 business customers, announced a hosepipe ban would begin on August 26.

The ban forbids people from using hoses to water gardens, wash cars or fill up paddling pools.

Thames Water, which supplies 15 million people around London, has said it is also planning restrictions.

Meanwhile, a ban on hoses and sprinklers for South East Water customers came into effect on Friday.

Water Minister Steve Double said: "All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies.

"We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed."

It is the first time since 2018 that water usage restrictions have been introduced in the UK.

This year, England faced its driest July since 1935 with rainfall classed as "exceptionally low" by the Environment Agency. 

Experts say the lack of rain caused decreased river flows and low groundwater levels, as well as soil being "much drier than would typically be expected for the time of year".