Northamptonshire still suffering from drought conditions

Pitsford Reservoir The Environment Agency said the drought conditions could continue into the summer unless there is more rainfall

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Parts of Northamptonshire are still experiencing drought conditions, according to the Environment Agency.

Water levels in the county remain low following a very dry Spring and mild Autumn in 2011.

Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and West Norfolk are also still affected by the dry conditions, the Agency said.

There is a warning that the problem could continue into the summer unless there is significant rainfall soon.

Darren Smith, from the Environment Agency (EA), said: "Met office statistics have revealed that 2011 had the lowest rainfall on record since 1921."

The EA said the county needed a number of months of above average rainfall to give a steady supply of water.

'Drought permit'

Mr Smith said the recent rainfall had improved things slightly, but the water levels in rivers remained low.

In November, Anglian Water was granted a permit to extract extra water from the River Nene, to replenish the half full Pitsford Reservoir, until early April.

"It is recognised the drought permit is not a magic fix and we will be discussing with Anglian Water whether to extend the permit in due course, but we currently have no plans to extend it," said Mr Smith.

Bob Rutt, who owns a cattle farm in Rockingham, said: "It is affecting our livestock because there is no grass growth, so the cattle cannot feed and we cannot make hay.

"In total, we have lost a quarter of our fodder stocks."

The EA and Anglian Water said they were working on a long term plan to make sure there was enough water for the future.

Anglian Water has already started a campaign to encourage people to conserve water.

"If everyone in Northampton were to cut back by 20 litres per day then that saving could supply the whole of Daventry," said Mr Smith.

A spokesman from Anglian Water said: "Since the drought permit was put in place we have been able to take enough water from the River Nene to prevent levels at Pitsford reservoir from dropping further.

"However, the continuing lack of rain means those levels remain low at about 56%."

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