South East Water announces hosepipe ban for Kent and Sussex

by 24britishtvAug. 3, 2022, 8:01 p.m. 19
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Three million people in the UK will be under a hosepipe ban this month after Kent and Sussex announced emergency drought measures.

South East Water said it had “no choice” but to restrict the use of water in its area from 12 August, citing demand this summer breaking “all previous records” amid extreme dry conditions.

Last week, Southern Water announced that just under a million people in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight would be under the same ban from this Friday, because rivers in the area were running dangerously dry. Thames Water and Welsh Water have also warned customers that water restrictions could be on the cards, which could plunge a further 14 million people into restrictions.

This July was the driest in England for more than 100 years, and some areas have faced their driest summer on record.

In a statement on its website, South East Water said: “This has been a time of extreme weather conditions across the UK. Official figures show this is the driest July on record since 1935 and the period between November 2021 and July 2022 has been the driest eight-month stint since 1976. During July in the south-east, we have only seen 8% of average rainfall for the month, and the long-term forecast for August and September is for similar weather.

“The demand for water this summer has broken all previous records, including the Covid lockdown heatwave. We have been producing an additional 120m litres of water a day to supply our customers, which is the equivalent of supplying a further four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne, daily.

“We have been left with no choice but to restrict the use of hosepipes and sprinklers from 0001 on Friday 12 August within our Kent and Sussex supply area until further notice. We are taking this step to ensure we have enough water for both essential use and to protect the environment. This will enable us to also reduce the amount of water we need to take from already stressed local water sources.”

These conditions are likely to continue after a drier than average year across the country, with southern England particularly at risk from drought.

Mark McCarthy, the head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: “It is not just July that has been dry. Since the start of the year, all months apart from February have been drier than average in the UK too. The result of this is that the winter, spring and summer of 2022 have all seen less than the UK average seasonal rainfall.”

Government sources said they had been pushing for water companies to implement these unpopular measures as soon as possible because of the risk to rivers and reservoirs from the dry weather and increased water usage.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency is working with water companies and other abstractors to protect water resources and ensure they take precautionary action so the needs of water users and the environment are met. Water companies are also putting their drought plans in place where needed to maintain water supply, but everyone can play their part to use water wisely.

“South East Water’s announcement of a temporary use ban for its customers in Kent, East Sussex and West Sussex is one of many measures they and other water companies should consider to reduce unnecessary water use and protect customer supplies and the environment.”

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