Wet weather could bring hosepipe ban to an early end

The wet weather could mean a shorter hosepipe ban

The Environment Agency says the recent wet weather has significantly reduced the risk of drought and widespread water restrictions this summer.

Thames Water has already announced that it could lift its hosepipe ban sooner than expected following an exceptionally wet spring. The UK's biggest water company, which serves 8.8 million customers, said that unless the weather takes "an unexpectedly Saharan twist", it no longer expected to keep the ban in place until the autumn.

There is still concern though that a third dry winter could see the situation 'deteriorate' again, with the chance of another ban next year.

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.

The latest drought briefing from the Environment Agency said the wet weather meant that river levels and reservoir stocks have improved significantly.

Sustainability Director for Thames Water, Richard Aylard, agreed:

"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."

Mr Aylard said that while water levels in underground aquifers were still very low, the company needed to wait a little longer to be sure it had enough water to get through summer and autumn without restrictions. But he pledged that Thames Water would not keep restrictions in place for any longer than was necessary, and said customers would be updated on the situation towards the end of June.