Hosepipe bans to be lifted

Hosepipe bans in place since April are to be lifted by three of the UK's biggest water companies.

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Companies to lift hosepipe bans

Hosepipe ban
The hosepipe ban will be lifted today Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Hosepipe bans are to be lifted by three of the UK's biggest water companies.

Thames Water, Anglian Water and Southern Water will today formally announce the end of the restrictions which have been in place since early April.

Seven water companies across southern and eastern England brought in hosepipe bans to combat drought, after two unusually dry winters left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976.

But the restrictions introduced early in April were followed by record rainfall across the UK for that month, and more rain in May and the beginning of June.

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Thames Water: 'The record spring rainfall has eased the situation considerably'

Richard Aylard, sustainability director for Thames Water:

The record spring rainfall has eased the situation considerably.

"The River Thames provides 70% of the water we supply to our customers and levels are now where we would expect them to be at this time of the year, and our reservoirs are still full.

"In addition we have had excellent cooperation from our customers, both in observing the restrictions and in using water wisely, and we are currently beating our leakage target by more than 60 million litres a day."

Drought could get worse, says Environment Agency

While the rain has improved the situation, a third dry winter could see conditions "deteriorate" again and lead to the possibility of more water restrictions next year.

While the downpours in April were pretty miserable, they were really welcome as water companies were able to refill their reservoirs, river levels are mostly back to normal, and many wildlife habitats that were suffering have recovered.

"But while the risk of drought with further water restrictions and associated environmental impacts this summer has reduced, the situation could deteriorate again next year if there is not enough rain this winter".

– Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency

In addition, groundwater levels are still well below normal in some areas, with some as low as in the drought year of 1976, and are unlikely to improve before the winter.

Some areas need as much as 140% of long-term average rainfall this winter to fully recover.

Why we have the hosepipe ban

After two unusually dry winters left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976, seven water companies across southern and eastern England brought in hosepipe bans to combat drought.

But the restrictions introduced early in April were followed by record rainfall across the UK for that month, and more rain in May.

The latest drought briefing from the Environment Agency said the wet weather had significantly reduced the risk of drought.

Hosepipe ban 'to be lifted'

Hosepipe
The hosepipe could be lifted in the autumn Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The hosepipe ban could be over sooner than expected after wet weather reduced the risk of drought.

Thames Water have said unless the weather takes "an unexpectedly Saharan twist", it no longer expected to keep the ban in place through to the autumn.

Anglian Water and Southern Water are thought to be in a similar position after the heavy rain the UK received in April and May boosted river levels and reservoir stocks.

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