Experts worry about water levels in the East Midlands

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Media captionWater levels remain low across the East Midlands despite recent rain, water experts say

Water levels in the East Midlands are "worryingly" low despite recent rain in the region, water experts say.

Stephanie Bricker, of the British Geological Survey, said checks on boreholes in the region show underground water levels are 5m (16.4ft) lower than normal.

She said they would expect the levels to be higher at this time of year.

The Environment Agency said Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire were at high risk of drought.

Dry canal

Ms Bricker said: "Because of the rain over the past few weeks, river levels have come up about a metre.

"But just a few weeks ago river levels were very low - and they have been worryingly low all winter.

"The difficulty is if it stops raining and we get a return to the dry weather, the river levels could drop off again very quickly."

Tim Appleton, reserve manager at Rutland Water, said he is concerned that the drought in England might mean a return to conditions similar to 1989 when large areas of the reservoir dried up.

Image caption Foxton Lock was empty during the drought in 1976

He added the reserve is managing water levels by moving water in and out of the main reservoir from a series of lagoons - which helps safeguard the wildlife in the area.

"We can release water and allow it to flow from one lagoon to another. The water also flows away from the lagoons back into the reservoir," he said.

Managers at nearby Foxton Locks in Leicestershire are also worried the tourist attraction might be forced to close to visitors because of low water levels.

Mary Matts, of Foxton Boat Services, said she was concerned the canal might eventually close, as it did in 1976 when reservoirs that fed the canal dried up.

However, Severn Trent said it is not planning any hosepipe bans in the near future in the East Midlands.

Severn Trent spokesman Sara Jayne O'Kean said: "We are not in a crisis situation. We are quite confident we have enough supplies to keep our customers with enough water this year with no restrictions."

Southeast England, Lincolnshire and East Anglia are already in drought, according to the Environment Agency.

Inside Out Special: Drought 2012 is broadcast at 19:30 BST on BBC One England and for seven days thereafter on the iPlayer.

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