The Stream, August 17, 2022: Drought May Worsen Across England, Bringing More Water Restrictions

Correction: Scientists predict that a massive snow and rainstorm will hit California in the wintertime sometime within the 21st century. An earlier version of this newsletter incorrectly stated the storm would hit this winter. 

The extreme heat and drought has dried up the typically lush grasses of London’s Greenwich Park. Photo from August 12, 2022. Photo © Alisdare Hickson / Flickr


  • Wildfires are raging across France as the country suffers through its worst drought on record. 
  • Climate adaptation is severely underfunded in Africa, according to a new report.
  • Drought could worsen in parts of England this winter if rain fails to fall.

Scientists predict a massive storm will hit California sometime this century.

“We got kind of lucky to avoid it in the 20th century. I would be very surprised to avoid it occurring in the 21st.”

— Daniel L. Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

New research has revealed that a massive winter rain and snow storm could hit California within this century. Although the Pacific coast is no stranger to heavy rainfall, climate change has exacerbated the impacts of atmospheric rivers and other natural disasters. The study, which comes from the University of California, Los Angeles, predicts that the superstorm will dump nearly 16 inches of precipitation across the state within a month. According to the New York Times, the storm will test the limits of water infrastructure like dams, levees and bypasses California has built to offset damage from powerful storms.

— Jane Johnston, Stream Editor

Recent WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: In Northern Mexico, Harsh Drought Compounds Water Inequality — Poor residents in Monterrey are buying bottled water from companies that extract groundwater from beneath their feet. 

What’s Up With Water—August 16, 2022 — This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers extreme heat and drought across Europe. Plus, Circle of Blue reports on the aftermath of catastrophic flooding in some of the poorest counties in the United States.

Drought in the American West

  • As of August 9, nearly 42 percent of the U.S. and Puerto Rico are in drought, down three percentage points in the last month. Monsoon precipitation and soil moisture have slightly eased drought conditions throughout the Southwest. 
  • The House passes the Inflation Reduction Act, which allocates $4 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation.
  • Flash floods in the driest spot in North America cause damage to roads and water systems.
  • Texas border counties issue emergency disaster declarations as the Falcon International Reservoir reaches historic lows.

For this week’s biggest headlines out of the drying American West, read Circle of Blue’s weekly roundup.

This Week’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


Wildfires across France burned more than 7,000 hectares of forest last week. Local authorities reported that nearly 6,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in the coastal region of Gironde, where the largest fire has been reported. The fires come amid the country’s worst drought on record.


A recent report from the Climate Policy Initiative found that climate change adaptation is severely underfunded in Africa. The continent is receiving only around 12 percent of the $250 billion it needs annually to transition to greener technologies and adjust to a changing climate. The report comes months before world leaders will meet in Egypt for COP27, an annual UN climate conference.

On the Radar

Experts say that without substantial rainfall this winter, parts of southeast England may experience severe drought, according to the Guardian. More dry conditions could bring even stricter restrictions on water use, including bans on non-essential uses like cleaning windows and maintaining swimming pools. The impact of severe drought, however, would likely impact the natural environment and the farming industry more than individual households. According to a briefing shared with the Guardian, ministers were warned that farmers may only have one month’s supply of water left. If conditions continue, farms may lose up to half of their crops. 

  • More UK Drought News: Reports of wildfires have increased by nearly 500 percent as drought conditions strain water supplies across the country. Also in the U.K., a major water utility has been accused of repeatedly ignoring signs of water cuts and burst pipes across the southern county of Surrey amid a heatwave over the weekend.

More Water News

Drought in Italy: The country’s largest lake, Lake Garda, has hit record low levels. 

Climate Activism: Climate activists have targeted golf courses in southern France over exemptions from water restrictions. Their form of protest? Filling holes along courses with cement.

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