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Young lambs drinking from the River Thames near its source at Kemble in Gloucestershire
Photograph: AlamyYoung lambs drinking from the River Thames source before the drought

Don’t panic, but the source of the Thames has dried up

The origin of the river in Gloucestershire has moved more than five miles downstream

Written by
Ellie Muir

If you’ve ventured into a London park recently, you’ll know that the ground has been frazzled by the sun and dried out to brown dust. Now there are warnings of imminent hosepipe bans and a reduction of the capital’s water supply. Whatever next? Well, the source of the River Thames is the drought’s next casualty. 

According to experts, this is the first time that the source has dried up, while weather forecasters are warning of further high temperatures to come. Off the back of July’s blistering heatwave, where London saw highs of 40C – and the driest eight-month spell since 1976 – water supplies are in quite the state. 

The river’s source, located outside Cirencester, Gloucestershire, has shifted more than five miles downstream to Somerford Keynes, and it continues to dry up. 

Dr Rob Collins, director of policy and science at the Canal & Rivers Trust, said: ‘Under our changing climate we can anticipate the frequency and severity of such periods of drought and water scarcity to intensify, with increasing competition for a dwindling resource and devastating impacts on aquatic life.’

And the good news just keeps on coming. The Met Office said on Thursday that the heatwave and dry weather show no signs of letting up, with minimal rain forecast for the next week and temperatures that could hit the mid-30Cs. Stats from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology show how much of the country is at risk of drought, showing that East Anglia and Kent are set to be in the most ‘severe category’ in the UK. Thames Water has not (yet) implemented restrictions on water such as a hosepipe ban, but it is asking people to be more frugal with their water usage by doing things such as turning off the tap while brushing their teeth.

Meanwhile, water suppliers across the country are already preparing for the worst. South East Water has announced that Kent and Sussex would be under a hosepipe ban from August 12, with a stonking £1,000 fine for those flouting the rules. Last week, Southern Water said that Hampshire and the Isle of Wight would be under similar restrictions from Friday.

So, for the love of God, maybe skimp doing your teeth tonight. Every drop is precious!

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