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LONDON (Reuters) -Britain will need to continue to manage water resources carefully over the coming months following the driest summer for 50 years and should begin planning now for potential water shortfalls in 2023, the National Drought Group said on Tuesday.

The group, made up of government officials, water companies, and environmental groups, said there was enough water for all essential household and business needs. Ten of the Environment Agency’s 14 areas in England are now in drought status.

There is however a need to continue to manage water resources carefully over the coming weeks and months to ensure that the needs of the public, farmers and industry, and nature and wildlife are met,” the group said.

Drought was officially declared in parts of England earlier this month for the first time since 2018, and six water companies have now implemented hosepipe bans to help protect water supplies.

The National Drought Group said it had agreed to step up its work to help manage the drought, including by monitoring groundwater levels and carrying out irrigation patrols.

It said water levels in rivers, lakes, groundwaters and reservoirs could be replenished to normal levels by spring but precautionary planning should begin now on how to manage any water shortfalls in 2023 if there is a dry autumn or winter.

Both for the coming year and, with the impact of climate change, for the coming decade, a complete gear change is needed for how water companies and all water users, from farmers to households, think about how they use water,” Environment Agency Chief Executive James Bevan said.

This summer should be a wake-up call for how the nation prepares for weather extremes and how we make the very best use of our water resources.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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