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Wet winter needed to prevent water shortages in exceptionally dry Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 17:01 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:59 15 October 2019

Flooding at the junction of Judith Avenue and Leiston Rd in Knodishall Picture; PAUL WILSON

Flooding at the junction of Judith Avenue and Leiston Rd in Knodishall Picture; PAUL WILSON

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Warnings have been issued by environmental experts over water usage as they claim a wet winter is needed to prevent water sanctions being put in place next year.

Firefighters battling the floodwater in Aldeburgh Picture: JAYNE DALEFirefighters battling the floodwater in Aldeburgh Picture: JAYNE DALE

The calls have been made after a series of dry winters have lead to a shortage in water in the eastern counties.

Experts saw 'exceptionally low river flows' in September after a prolonged dry spell, and despite a whole month of rain falling within past two weeks, Suffolk will still need a wet autumn and a wet winter to maintain healthy water levels.

Thunderstorms and heavy rain have hit Suffolk in the past fortnight, bringing localised flooding in areas worst-hit.

The weather was much needed, and the Environment Agency revealed how concerned it was over water levels in the east back in August.

A flooded road in Fressingfield, with a sewage cover bursting open Picture: SAFEA flooded road in Fressingfield, with a sewage cover bursting open Picture: SAFE

Such is the pressure on Suffolk's water sources that the Environment Agency is telling local businesses and residents to "take action".

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'Exceptionally dry winters have caused environmental drought'

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency in the east of England said: "Water companies, businesses, farmers and individuals all need to take action now to reduce the amount of water that they take and use.

The flooding in Church Lane, Felixstowe. Picture: ELIZABETH BROWNThe flooding in Church Lane, Felixstowe. Picture: ELIZABETH BROWN

"Balancing the needs of people and the environment is a challenge - population growth, particularly in the south east and East Anglia, means that more and more water is required at a time when climate change is reducing the amount of water that is available.

"Exceptionally dry weather over the last three winters has caused an environmental drought in East Anglia. A wet autumn and winter will be needed to sustain healthy water levels and to aid recovery from a recent dry summer and previously dry winters."

Several issues have arisen in rivers since the drought began.

Duckweed growth has boomed in recent years, helped by increasing average summer temperatures which have produced nutrient-rich, slow flowing rivers which the weed thrives on.

Officers helped scoop the fish out of a horseshoe weir in Nayland Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYOfficers helped scoop the fish out of a horseshoe weir in Nayland Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

When the weed grows extensively on the surface of a body of water, it can reduce light and dissolved oxygen levels in the water, which can lead to poor fish health.

This summer, thousands of fish had to be rescued from the River Stour at Nayland and transferred to other places with more water.

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