4:42pm Sunday 29th April 2012
By Robert Fisk
ALTHOUGH April showers have brought some relief, they are not enough to end the drought, Thames Water has warned.
Despite above average rainfall this month, the region’s rivers and groundwater levels are still seriously low, with the River Darent at just 28 per cent of what it should be at this time of year.
Some boreholes remain at their lowest levels ever.
Thames Water’s external affairs and sustainability director Richard Aylard said: “The irony has not escaped us, we know there’s been a lot of rain since we announced the hosepipe ban, and we understand why people are talking about ‘the wettest drought ever’.
“But – seriously - a couple of wet weeks are not going to fix the problem.
“The extra rain we’ve had this month will make up for the shortfall in March, and a bit of February, but not the last two years, which were the driest ever recorded.
"At the end of March the cumulative deficit in rainfall over the previous 24 months was 417 mm.
“By April 24, we'd had 68 mm of rain, but this still only reduces the deficit by 4.4 per cent.
"It’s fair enough to ask where all this rain has gone.
“The answer is mostly into the soil, which acts like a sponge.
“By the end of March it was so dry that most of the rain we have had since then has just made this sponge wet, rather than getting through to recharge the groundwater we rely on.
“And as soon as the weather warms up, the plants will put on a growth spurt and suck up most of the moisture, drying the sponge out again.
“It is most unlikely that we will be able to lift the hosepipe ban until we have had some winter rainfall to really recharge the ground-water levels that are still, in places, lower than they were in 1976.
“For us, it’s a case of the wetter, the better."
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