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Weather & Science

London Is Teetering Toward Water Rationing If Drought Persists

The famously green UK capital is now covered in fields of yellow after weeks of unusual heat and a lack of rain.

Greenwich Park in London, on Aug. 3.

Greenwich Park in London, on Aug. 3.

Photographer: Jose Sarmento Matos/Bloomberg
Updated on

The lawns crossing Britain’s Kew Gardens, home to the world’s biggest collection of living plants, have turned yellow. Amid one of the hottest and driest summers on record, gardeners at the southwest London tourist attraction are carefully choosing how and when to irrigate thousands of species of plants and trees that draw in more than a million visitors a year. Over on woody Hampstead Heath, a park in the north of the city, staff have fenced off a number of trees to protect them against the risk of fire. 

Across London — and most of England — the unprecedented heat this summer has pushed plant life, infrastructure and residents to the edge. Green leaves are falling ahead of autumn. Dead grass crunches as you walk across the park. At times there’s been a desert-like feeling in the air. High temperatures have also sparked fires near London. Train operators have triggered warnings about buckling railway lines. Gas pipelines have cut output due to high temperatures.