Desparate water-saving measures, on a level not seen since the 1976 drought, may be introduced as forecasters predict the lowest rainfall in 80 years.
The first six months of this year have been the driest since 1929 and experts warn next month will also see rainfall 25 per cent below average, forcing families to ration their water.
Even October and December are due to be dry, which is expected to cause problems in Yorkshire, East Anglia and Plymouth.
Weather expert Jonathan Powell said the North-west was already having trouble with reservoir levels – like the one at Haweswater, Cumbria, above.
He added: “Our long-range computer programme shows a distinct possibility that this year will be the driest on record.”
“There could be widespread drought orders and hosepipe bans, with measures used in 1976 repeated, such as people encouraged to share bath water and to not flush the toilet unless they really need to. The worst-case scenario would be standpipes in the street.”