A drought has formally been declared in the East Anglian region following prolonged dry weather and a significant lack of rainfall across England.

The Environment Agency (EA) decided today (Friday) to move eight out of the 14 areas in England into drought status, which also includes Herts and North London and Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

The EA says the drought announcement was based on data including rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels, reservoir levels, and the dryness of soils), as well as the impacts these conditions are having on public water supply, water users such as farmers, and the environment.

The EA had convened in July with the National Drought Group to discuss the lack of rainfall and placed the country in 'prolonged dry, weather, status, which has now been updated to 'drought' status.

Drought status is the second of four emergency dry weather stages, and now the EA will coordinate the response with water companies.

Water minister Steve Double said: "All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies.

"We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed."

While moving into drought status does not automatically trigger actions itself, water companies will be expected to roll out and initiate their agreed drought plans.

Anglian Water's drought plan will provide an overview of how it proposes to manage water resources during a drought to protect public water supplies.

Ciaran Nelson, a spokesperson for Anglian Water, said: “Today’s declaration of drought across the region we supply serves to underline the seriousness of the situation.

"But because of the investments we’ve made and the support of our customers, we still do not envisage needing a hosepipe ban in our region this summer.

“Just because we don’t have a hosepipe ban, though, doesn’t mean people can be reckless with water. The less we and our customers use, the more can be left in the environment."