It is renowned as a green and pleasant land.

But England may have to beg Scotland for water to keep its village cricket pitches pristine and rose gardens watered.

Huge areas of the south and east of England are suffering their worst drought in almost 35 years, and its northern neighbour may be called on to help.

The UK Government admitted yesterday that if the country's rivers and reservoirs continue to dry up at the current alarming rate, then some of Scotland's supply could be siphoned for use south of the Border.

As large swathes of towns and villages from Kent to Cambridgeshire faced the possibility of a hosepipe ban, despite it only being February, a network of underground pipes transporting millions of litres of water could be England's saviour.

An underground system is used to channel water from Loch Katrine in the heart of the Trossachs to Glasgow. However, a cross-Border project is dismissed by some observers as too costly and unrealistic.

The Environment Agency has estimated that taking water from the north of England to London would cost £8 million to £14m a day per million litres. The expense is driven largely by the heavy weight of water.

There are also environmental concerns that taking water out of its natural home could trigger vast changes in local ecology.

Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, champions the idea of transporting water down rivers and canals.

He said: "The rain it raineth on the just and the unjust, says the Bible, but frankly it raineth a lot more in Scotland and Wales than it doth in England."

He promoted J F Pownall's 1942 plan for a "Grand Contour Canal", which would follow the contour of the hills all the way from the Scottish borders to the south-east.

Small-scale water grids do exist to move water around regions and Severn Trent, which maintains supply in the Midlands, has set out proposals that would allow water firms to "trade" water from one region to another.

The UK Department for the Environment said yesterday such a measure was possible, although it was a "worst case scenario".

A spokesman said: "It's really expensive to transport water. The situation is not yet drastic enough for that to be an option, whether by vehicle or pipeline."

Although it had yet to be discussed, he added that if other measures didn't work it "might become an option".

The west of Scotland last year saw 89in of rainfall, while East Anglia had just 18in.

Since October 2010, south-east England has had only four-fifths of the long-term average rainfall, leading to a "huge cumulative shortfall" in the rain needed to replenish the groundwater aquifers that supply much of the region's water.

The lack of rain continued last month with the region receiving two-thirds of the long-term average rainfall for January. The worst-affected reservoirs at Ardingly in West Sussex and Bewl in Kent are at two-fifths of their normal levels.

Following a "drought summit" of key water industry figures, farmers and wildlife groups yesterday, Caroline Spelman, the UK Environment Secretary, said: "Drought is already an issue this year with the south-east, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall."

Richard Aylard, of Thames Water, said the lack of rain had led to very low levels of groundwater, needed to keep rivers flowing, and things were "going to get worse" without a significant change in the weather in the coming months.

Wildlife could be hit by the continuing dry conditions, while there have been calls for farmers to get a "fair share" of water to ensure food crops were not affected.

The biggest argument against transporting water is that nowhere is immune from drought – there was a hosepipe ban in Dundee two years ago.