South East Water introduces hosepipe ban for customers in Kent and Sussex due to record demand

ITV News' Sejal Karia reports live on whether this might be the first hosepipe ban of many

Households in Kent and Sussex supplied by South East Water will face restrictions on their usage due to record levels of demand.

Demand in the county has reached 'record levels' the company has said, leaving it with 'no choice' but to restrict the use of hosepipes.

The restrictions will be in place from June 26.

South East Water says its facilities are currently working at full output, with every water treatment work and water source available to the company producing treated water to keep up with demand.

Despite this, the company is unable to return drinking water storage tanks to satisfactory levels to ensure that it is able to consistently provide clean safe drinking water for its 2.3m customers.

Hosepipe bans have been introduced in previous droughts. Credit: PA

The decision follows a 'prolonged period of dry weather', which South East Water says has impacted stocks of treated clean water available to customers.

Customers of the company in parts of the South East have been experiencing water supply problems in recent days, with the company blaming record demand.

South East Water said despite producing an additional 120 million litres of water a day - equivalent to supplying four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne – the demand for water has broken all previous records, including during the Covid lockdown heatwave periods.

David Hinton, Chief Executive Officer, South East Water, said: “This situation has developed much more rapidly than last year. Understandably, we’ve seen customer demand increase in line with the hotter weather, however this has impacted our ability to keep all customers in supply at all times. Despite asking for customers help to use water for essential uses only, regrettably we’ve now been left with no choice but to introduce this temporary use ban restriction to protect customers supplies across Kent and Sussex.

“The long-term forecast for the rest of the summer is for a dry period with little rainfall, although temperatures may reduce slightly. Restricting the use of hosepipes and sprinklers to make sure we have enough water for our customers’ essential use, will ensure we can serve our vulnerable customers and to protect the local environment.

"The temporary restrictions, will be enforced from 26 June. This will mean that customers will be prevented from using hosepipes for watering their gardens, washing cars, patios and boats and from filling swimming and paddling pools.

"We are very aware that climate change and other factors are increasing the frequency of these events and we are submitting proposals to our regulator, Ofwat to solve these issues.

“I would like to thank everyone who has already taken steps to try and reduce their overall water use but despite this, demand still remains very high which is why we have taken this decision to bring in temporary use restrictions.”

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