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Warning River Severn at risk of drying up

North Shropshire | News | Published:

The River Severn could come close to drying up this summer if Shropshire's lack of rainfall continues, a waterways expert warned today.

The River Severn could come close to drying up this summer if Shropshire's lack of rainfall continues, a waterways expert warned today.

Sir John Roberts said the county's water levels were currently in 'dire straits' as the Environment Agency prepares to officially declare drought conditions across the Midlands.

The chairman of Shropshire Anglers Federation said persistent heavy rainfall was needed in the county, but conceded that reaching the volume needed was 'highly unlikely'.

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He said that over the last five years general rainfall levels had been falling.

"Last year was bad but this year is worse because we haven't had the rain through the winter," he said. "April seems to be working as we expected but we could do with a month's worth of constant rain to bring things back to where they should be.

"We are in dire straits. When we hit high summer, the River Severn could be a trickle."

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Sarah Gibson, a spokesman for Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said the conditions were already causing problems.

"Many ponds, normally full at this time of year are dried up – bad news for all kinds of creatures such as frogs, newts and toads," she said. "For wading birds including curlew and lapwing, it's another blow to their chances of breeding successfully – they need wet mud to dig out the invertebrates they feed on.

"Newly planted trees and hedgerows may suffer," she added. "As the water table drops, their roots are susceptible to drying out, putting them at risk. Low water levels in our rivers can also be problematic for fish and pollutants in the form of agricultural run-off may become more concentrated. Let's hope for April downpours."

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In North Shropshire, Councillor Alan Clarke, mayor of Ellesmere, said water levels at The Mere appeared to be normal so far. But he said some of the other meres in the area, such as Colemere, had seen water levels drop in dry weather in the past.

He said: "I was down there on the shingle beach about two weeks ago and it seemed about normal, but when it's been dry in the past, more and more of the beach gets exposed."

To report issues caused by drought, call the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

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