A hosepipe ban is almost inevitable for millions of people as southeast England suffers from drought.
Householders in affected areas were yesterday asked to conserve water by taking showers instead of baths, installing dual flush toilets and washing fruit and vegetables in bowls.
Drought conditions have been declared in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire which have seen rivers dry up.
Lack of rain during the winter months has caused the issue to jump to the fore. Apart from a poor winter’s worth of rain, this is also due to several years in which below average rainfall has caused a knock-on effect.
It’s estimated that supplies will be further hit this year due to the London Olympics which is expected to use up an extra 10 per cent of stored water. Although unofficial, it is believed the Olympics will be exempt from any restrictions. Thames Water, who will supply water for the Olympics have said they are working to ensure the Games won’t be affected. This of course begs the question of where they will get the extra 10 per cent of water supplies from and whether the consumer will suffer even further as a result.
Richard Aylard, of Thames Water, had this to say: “It may not seem like it, but we have had one of the driest two-year periods since records began in 1884. None of us can control the weather, but we can make a real difference by using less water. For example, turning off taps while brushing our teeth can save six litres a minute, and a minute less in the shower can save ten.”
Thames Water announced it would impose a hosepipe ban on its 8.8 million customers in the Spring if we do not have significant rainfall within days. They are also preparing to apply for drought permits as we speak.
Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, said: “We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.” This after an emergency meeting with Water companies, industry leaders including farmers and wildlife groups.
Farmers are expected to be amongst the hardest hit as expected restrictions will see them being unable to irrigate their crops as needed. Critical in this equation will be the amount of rainfall we see between now and Autumn. Gwyn Jones, NFU vice president, stated that his members were “extremely anxious”.
The Anglian region has just experienced its driest five-month period. It received below average rainfall in January along with the Midlands and South East. John Clare, of Anglian Water said that rivers were 20 per cent lower than they would like. Each rainless day “increases the possibility” of a hosepipe ban.
Both Anglian and Southern water companies have applied for drought permits to help to refill reservoirs.
From the Environment Agency:
Parts of East Anglia and now the South East are officially in drought status with parts of Midlands continuing to experience drought conditions.
Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and west Norfolk are still in drought. Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent, Surrey, London, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and the east of Gloucestershire are now in drought.
Shropshire and Nottinghamshire in our Midlands region are still affected by dry weather. In our Anglian region groundwater levels remain exceptionally low. Soils in these areas are still not wet enough for widespread recharge to take place.
At the moment, no water companies have hosepipe bans in place.
We will of course be updating the website as more news comes in. Please also see our hosepipe ban current situation page.