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Groundwater levels begin to rise
Groundwater levels have started to rise in some areas after the wettest April on record, but experts warn it will take more time and more rain to undo the drought.
In its latest update, the Environment Agency said drought was still affecting the South East, south west England, the Midlands, East Anglia and South and East Yorkshire, despite the recent heavy rain which has caused localised flooding.
But rivers are now at normal or above average levels, reservoir stocks have improved and dry soils have become wetter as a result of the record rainfall for the month, which saw most regions receive more than double the average rain.
And the agency said it had started to see initial increases in groundwater levels at sites in limestone and chalk aquifers, important for drinking water supplies.
But groundwater levels remain low for the time of the year, and 11 sites monitored by the Environment Agency (EA) are still "exceptionally low".
It will take more than the rain received so far to reverse the effects of the past two unusually dry years which have left swathes of England in drought, the agency said.
An EA spokesman said: "Recent rainfall has eased the situation for farmers, gardeners and wildlife, and has increased water levels in a number of public water supply and farm reservoirs." He continued: "But it will take more time and more rain to undo the effects of two dry winters on groundwater stores."
The Environment Agency also warned that should the dry weather return, river levels will quickly recede.
While river levels are high from the rain, the agency has asked water company Severn Trent to abstract water from the River Leam when flood alerts and warnings are in place to reduce flood waters, which will also help refill Draycote reservoir.
Hosepipe bans brought in by seven water companies across southern and eastern England, at the beginning of what turned out to be the wettest April on record since records began in 1910, remain in place.