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    UK Drought Worst Since 1976

    April 17, 2012; 5:54 AM ET
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    Photos.com/Gregory Johnston

    Drought has been declared amid drying rivers and shrinking reservoirs in a swath of England that is home to more than 35 million people, multiple online sources said on Monday.

    Expanding drought, which may last until Christmas, has left the U.K. with its most severe water shortage since 1976, according to the kingdom's Environment Agency.

    Water restrictions, known as hose pipe bans, that were imposed earlier in the year have remained in effect for about 20 million customers in the English East and South East, the BBC News website indicated.

    The growing drought has followed up to two years of below-normal rainfall.

    A winter in which parts of England got less than 60 percent of normal rainfall worsened the situation, the BBC said.

    The latest drought declarations, imposed on a further 17 counties, expanded the official drought area into the Midlands and the South West. where the Environment Agency was worried about "huge" impact on rivers and farmers.

    The ongoing drought has raised the specter of 1976, when what the U.K. Telegraph website called "the worst drought in 100 years" gripped Britain.

    Already, there are parts of the country that are drier than they were in 1976, according to the Telegraph.

    Fears of Britain's longest river, the Severn, "drying up in places" have been raised, the Daily Mail website said.

    Already, at least four English rivers have dropped to their lowest-ever recorded levels, the BBC said. Drying up of the River Lathkill in Derbyshire has led to a fish rescue, the report said.

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