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South East Water announces hosepipe ban as Britain’s dry spell continues

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A second hosepipe ban hitting millions more households in South East England from next Friday was announced today as Britain’s dry spell continues.

South East Water has confirmed a ‘temporary usage ban’ from August 12, meaning the use of hosepipes or sprinklers will be restricted for people in Kent and Sussex.

Around 2.2million customers across the counties will be hit by the ban, with the supplier saying the demand for water this summer has broken all previous records.

South East Water, which lost 88.7million litres of water a day through leaking pipes last year, is the second UK water firm to bring in a hosepipe ban so far this summer.

Last week, Southern Water announced a ban for nearly a million of its customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that comes into force this Friday.

THEN AND NOW: The water level at Bewl Water reservoir (left, in May 2021; and right, last Tuesday) near Lamberhurst in Kent, which is currently measured at 67 per cent of its capacity

It will mean hosepipes cannot be used to water gardens or clean cars, and ornamental ponds and private swimming pools must not be filled.

Flouting the restriction could lead to prosecution and a court fine of up to £1,000.

An internal South East Water briefing on plans for the new ban, seen by the Daily Mail yesterday, noted that other water companies could follow suit as they are ‘really thinking hard on their positions’.

The firm has already called on its customers to voluntarily turn off their hosepipes and sprinkler systems as the hot, dry weather continues.

South East Water said in an announcement today: ‘The use of a hosepipe or sprinkler will be restricted from Friday, August 12 for our customers in Kent and Sussex.

Very dry grass at Boughton and Eastwell Cricket Club in Ashford, Kent, pictured last Friday

Very dry grass at Boughton and Eastwell Cricket Club in Ashford, Kent, pictured last Friday

‘This has been a time of extreme weather conditions across the UK. Official figures show this is the driest July on record since 1935 and the period between November 2021 and July 2022 has been the driest eight-month stint since 1976.

‘During July in the South East, we have only seen 8 percent of average rainfall for the month, and the long term forecast for August and September is for similar weather.

‘The demand for water this summer has broken all previous records, including the Covid lockdown heatwave.

‘We have been producing an additional 120 million litres of water a day to supply our customers, which is the equivalent of supplying a further four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne, daily.

Firefighters dampen dampen down dry grass that caught alight at Barton's Point Coastal Park on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent last month

Firefighters dampen dampen down dry grass that caught alight at Barton’s Point Coastal Park on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent last month

‘We have been left with no choice but to restrict the use of hosepipes and sprinklers from 0.01am on Friday, August 12 within our Kent and Sussex supply area until further notice.

‘We are taking this step to ensure we have enough water for both essential use and to protect the environment. This will enable us to also reduce the amount of water we need to take from already stressed local water sources.’

Lee Dance, South East Water’s head of water resources, had also said last week: ‘Clearly, we are in a very dry and warm period and the forecast is that this may continue for a number of weeks.’

Mr Dance added: ‘We have been looking very closely at the current situation and assessing the likelihood of restrictions and other measures.

The Met Office said southern England had seen its driest July since records began in 1836

The Met Office said southern England had seen its driest July since records began in 1836

‘If our assessment reveals voluntary reduction of water use will not allow us to maintain supplies of water for essential use or to protect the environment, then we may need to impose more formal bans.’

The most prominent water company that has hinted it could also bring in a hosepipe ban this summer is Thames Water.

The firm said in a statement last week: ‘If we do not receive around or above average rainfall in the coming months, this will increase pressure on our resources and may, indeed, result in the need for more water saving measures including restrictions.’

This week, the Met Office said southern England had experienced its driest July since records began in 1836.

South East Water has confirmed a 'temporary usage ban' in Kent and Sussex from August 12

South East Water has confirmed a ‘temporary usage ban’ in Kent and Sussex from August 12

South-East and central southern England saw an average of just 5mm (0.2ins) of rain last month, while East Anglia had only a fraction more with 5.4mm (0.21ins).

Most of England – with the exception of the North-West – has moved into a state of ‘prolonged dry weather’.

This is described by the Environment Agency as ‘the first stage of a drought’, raising the spectre of restrictions such as hosepipe bans.

The Isle of Man also announced a hosepipe ban last week, while Welsh Water has said it may have to bring in a similar restriction in Pembrokeshire.

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