Source of London's Thames River runs dry amid prolonged heat

Extended hot and dry temperatures across the U.K. and much of Europe have caused the source of London’s River Thames to dry up for the first time since 1976, while other waterways have dried up, requiring salmon and trout to be rescued (pictured). Photo by U.K. Environment Agency

Aug. 11 (UPI) — Extended hot and dry temperatures across Britain and much of Europe have caused the source of London’s River Thames to dry up for the first time since 1976.

The river is fed by limestone aquifers near the English village of Ashton Keynes, where there is no running water within almost 10 miles of the usual source.

Last month was the driest July on record in the country since 1935 as Europe deals with an extended heat wave. Temperatures have routinely surpassed 80 degrees, occasionally touching as high as 90 and there has been no significant rainfall for months.

According to the latest forecast, 47% of the European Union is under drought Warning conditions and 17% is under Alert conditions, according to the European Drought Observatory.

“The prolonged dry weather is affecting many rivers and lakes across much of central, south-west, south-east and eastern England,” the U.K. Environment Agency said on its website Thursday.

“The dry weather and hot temperatures have taken their toll on the water environment. Already this year we have received reports of over 200 dry weather incidents, and we expect this figure to increase.”

The agency posted pictures of dry rivers and creeks where its officers rescued migratory salmon and sea trout.

“Fish are an excellent barometer of the health of our waterways and often the first casualties when conditions deteriorate,” the agency said.

Britain’s Met Office issued an Amber extreme heat warning Tuesday for many regions of the country in the week, when temperatures are forecast to get near triple digits.

The warning covers much of the southern half of England as well as parts of eastern Wales from Thursday through Sunday. Weather officials caution that the heat could impact health, transportation and infrastructure.

Wildfires are currently burning through Spain, Portugal and France, destroying homes and charring thousands of acres. Eight fires have forced the evacuation of around 10,000 people from their homes.

The French government has asked companies to make employees who are enlisted volunteer firefighters available to fight the blazes for the remainder of August.

Water levels in Germany’s Rhine River have dropped so far that ships are having difficulty traversing it to deliver goods, including coal and gas.

Italy, which is suffering the worst drought in 70 years, declared a state of emergency for five northern regions in early July.

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