Below-average rainfall prompts concern for a second dry winter

East Anglia rainfall, August 2016 - January 2017

East Anglia rainfall, August 2016 - January 2017 - Credit: Archant

A six-month period of below-average rainfall has left East Anglia's groundwater supplies low – prompting concerns for resources should the region suffer a second dry winter.

Met Office figures show the area's rainfall from the start of August to the end of January was 75pc of the 30-year average, with December only seeing 39pc of the average rainfall.

Although this means aquifers have not recharged to their usual levels, farming representatives say there is no immediate concern, but a similar situation next winter could prompt a drought.

Paul Hammett, water resources specialist for the National Farmers' Union (NFU), said: 'There is no current cause for concern, but we are all highly conscious of the below-average rainfall we have had for the last six months. We are in monitoring and sharing information mode.

'Really we would hope that there won't be any significant restrictions to irrigation for 2017, but if this is the first of two dry winters we need to be thinking about this quite seriously.

'Rivers are currently flowing in a way you would expect at this time of year, it is just the issue is that the aquifer relies on winter rainfall to replenish and we are running out of time for that to happen. Some farmers will have been subject to restrictions on filling their reservoirs, but I'm not really picking up any concern that this has handicapped anything.'