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Drought declared in Eastern England

LONDON, June 10 (UPI) -- A drought was declared Thursday in East Anglia, with environmental officials saying much of the rest of England and Wales is in "near-drought conditions."

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs planned meetings Friday with groups representing farmers, water companies and environmental groups, the Farmers Guardian reported. Many farmers in eastern England have already said they will water crops at night to reduce loss through evaporation.

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The spring was unusually hot and dry, with the lowest rainfall amounts in 20 years in parts of the country and the lowest ever recorded in some of southern England.

DEFRA Secretary Caroline Spelman urged the public to limit water usage.

"Drought has hit parts of East Anglia, with other areas in England and Wales also giving grounds for concern," she said. "Water companies are confident that supplies are high enough so that widespread restrictions to the public are unlikely. We're doing all we can to reduce the impact on agriculture and wildlife, but everyone can play their part."

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