It’s been the wettest April for over 100 years and there are 13 flood warnings in place at the time of writing, with many more floods having been and gone. But the hosepipe ban affecting 20 million people in south and east England remains in place.
Although this has been good for farmers, gardeners, fish and wildlife in rivers, much more rain is needed to fill depleted groundwater stocks. Sadly this rain wasn’t available during the last two winters when groundwater levels are usually replenished. Rain during the summer months is largely taken by plant growth and evaporation.
May is also set to see lots of rain, though the water companies are still expecting to keep hosepipe bans in places for much of this year.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman today raised the spectre of standpipes on English streets, something not seen on a large scale since 1976. She said: “Whereas it’s most unlikely we’d have standpipes this year, if we have another dry winter that becomes more likely.”
Thames Water said: “It is likely that the current temporary use ban, or ‘hosepipe ban’, will need to remain in place for the rest of the year. April’s rain has provided a short-term boost to river flows, which has allowed Thames Water to get its reservoirs to 100 per cent full, and keep them there for the time being, but it has not delivered the long-term solution.”
However, the Consumer Council for Water are not happy. Chairwoman Dame Yve Buckland had this to say: “It seems incredible that we are splashing around in floods, having had the wettest April on record and we are still seeing drought restrictions. We are going to seek clarification from Government, the Environment Agency and the companies at the highest level. We want to see the science and evidence that there is an on-going problem.”