Hose ban goes into effect amid hot, dry conditions

Dry parts of England are facing a hose ban amid very dry conditions and ahead of another predicted heat wave.

Southern Water announced the change from Friday for customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, while the move will follow in exactly one week for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex.

Months of little rain, combined with record temperatures in July, left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs and dry soils.

All of this has put pressure on the environment, agriculture and water supplies, and is fueling forest fires.

The Met Office has warned that there is “little significant rain” on the horizon for dry areas of England, as temperatures are expected to climb to 30 degrees next week.

While it could mean another heat wave – when temperatures are above average for three days or more – conditions are likely to be well below the 40°C seen in some places over the past month.

Hottest UK temperatures in August

(PA charts)

The situation has prompted calls for action to reduce water consumption to protect the environment and supplies, and to restore the country’s lost wetlands “on a massive scale” to face a future of drier summers and droughts.

Southern Water said it is asking customers to “limit their use to reduce the risk of further restrictions and disruptions to water supplies, but more importantly, to protect our local rivers.”

South East Water said it “had no choice but to restrict the use of hoses and sprinklers” from midnight August 12 in Kent and Sussex “until further notice”.

The company added that it is taking steps “to ensure we have enough water for essential use and to protect the environment” and to allow for a reduction in the amount of water “that we need to take from already stressed local water sources”.

Other water companies have so far delayed restrictions despite low water levels, though some say they may need to implement bans if dry weather continues.

Residents who have not yet been hit by the restrictions are being urged to refrain from using hoses to water their garden or clean their car.

Thames Water’s desalination plant in Beckton, East London, which was built to deliver up to 100 million liters of water a day in dry weather events, is currently out of commission.

Parts of England had the driest July on record dating back to 1836, following the driest eight-month period since November 2021 for the country since 1976.

There are indications of a return to more changeable weather conditions starting in mid-August, the Met Office said.

Nature activists have criticized water companies for delaying the imposition of restrictions to “the last possible moment” when rivers are in a “desperate” state, and for last-minute announcements that spur an increase in water demand ahead of the ban on water. hoses.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of The Rivers Trust, said: “Every year we reach this dangerous position and at the last possible moment when the rivers are at their lowest, we discuss temporary bans on use.

“Announcing it at the last minute makes people rush to wash their cars and fill their kiddie pools, wash their dog and cause a surge in demand before the ban kicks in.

“This must happen before the rivers reach a desperate condition and there is not enough water for wildlife.”

The Rivers Trust is calling for accelerated measurement, rapid reduction of leaks, support for families to reduce water use, such as installing low-flow toilets and water culverts, and sustainable drainage, including rain gardens, swamps and permeable paving. to build local underground water supplies.

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