Source of River Thames moves five miles downstream as UK's first hosepipe ban comes into force

5 August 2022, 16:58

The source of the River Thames River Thames near to Somerford Keynes in Gloucestershire, has dried up.
The source of the River Thames River Thames near to Somerford Keynes in Gloucestershire, has dried up. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The source of the River Thames has moved five miles downstream for the first time in its history as the UK continues to grapple with the extremely dry weather.

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The first hosepipe bans were introduced on Friday in parts of southern England, following weeks of little rainfall and increasingly high temperatures reaching in excess of 40C.

Elsewhere, golf courses have seen their fairways dry up, while the source of the River Thames has moved five miles downstream for the first time in its history.

The source of the Thames has moved east from Kemble, just south of Cirencester, to beyond Somerford Keynes.

While parts of the riverbed in Gloucestershire regularly dry out during the summer, experts said it was a worrying sign of the impact of the climate crisis to see the Thames begin flowing so far downstream.

Christine Colvin, advocacy and engagement director of the Rivers Trust, said: "What we're seeing at the source of the iconic River Thames is sadly emblematic of the situation we're facing across the country, now and in future.

Read more: Fury as video shows Rishi boasting about taking money from 'deprived urban areas' for wealthy towns

"Whilst it's not uncommon for the source to be dry in the summer, to only be seeing the river flowing five miles downstream is unprecedented.

"The climate crisis is leading, and will lead, to more extreme weather including droughts and heatwaves.

"This poses a grave threat to rivers and, as a result, the wider landscape."

Meanwhile, gardeners are being urged to grass on their neighbours if they spot them repeatedly breaching hosepipe bans.

Southern Water, whose domestic water-use restrictions are now in place across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, encouraged people to "gently remind" neighbours of the restrictions in place if they see anyone breaking the rules.

A spokesman added: "If you see anyone repeatedly breaching the restrictions, please let us know via our customer service team.

"A fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed for any breaches.

"Our approach is one of education rather than enforcement.

"We would like to thank all our customers for supporting these restrictions and for doing your bit to protect your local rivers."

Any fine would have to be imposed via the courts.

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