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Drought ends for 19 counties

The Environment Agency has removed drought status in 19 counties in the South West, Midlands andYorkshire, following the wettest April on record.

However, hosepipe bans remain in place inLondon, the South East and parts ofEast Anglia, while groundwater levels remain very low. The Environment Agency is keeping the situation under continuous review.

Supplier Thames Water stated that further restrictions on top of hosepipe bans have been ruled out for 2012.

The environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, said: “If an area is no longer in drought, the public shouldn’t have the possibility of hosepipe bans or other temporary restrictions hanging over their heads, which is why Defra and the Environment Agency have been continuously monitoring and reviewing the drought situation. But we cannot forget that Anglia,Londonand the south east are still in drought.”

Richard Aylard, Thames Water’s sustainability director, said: “It is a great relief for us that we can now rule out seeking a drought order this year. [But] we could yet have a long hot summer, so, much as we'd love to, it would be irresponsible for us to lift the hosepipe ban just yet.

“Although the current account, in our reservoirs and rivers, is in good shape at the moment, the savings account, deep below ground, is still in the red. Groundwater levels in many areas remain at their lowest ever, lower even than in 1976. So while it's wet on top, it remains dry underneath.”

The 19 areas that are no longer in drought are south Yorkshire, east Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, parts of Gloucestershire, parts of Hampshire, most of Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

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