Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Hosepipe ban 'unlikely' this year

Water authorities say hosepipe bans are unlikely this year

Water users are unlikely to face hosepipe bans this year, authorities have said.

A year ago, rate payers in some pockets of the UK were in the puzzling situation of having to endure water restrictions at a time of widespread heavy rainfall which contributed to 2012 being the second wettest year on record.

Those who introduced the ban last year affected the usage habits of 20 million people. But what may have seen like months of almost relentless rainfall have helped replenish stocks at reservoirs across the country, minimising the prospect of restrictions or droughts being declared this summer.

Victoria Williams, drought advisor at the Environment Agency, said: "Our latest water situation report details a positive outlook for water resources in the coming months. Last year was the second wettest year on record, and despite a relatively dry start to 2013, river levels are normal or above normal at the majority of our monitoring sites.

"The results show a positive picture even if rainfall is below average and point to the risk of drought this summer being no greater than average. However it is still as important as ever to use water wisely. If the weather does turn hot and dry there could be localised impacts on rivers and the environment."

Seven water companies - Thames, Southern Water, South East Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East - introduced hosepipe bans in the spring of 2012 after the 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 June, with more rain between them in May. Most of the bans were lifted by early summer, while floods featured throughout November and December across some parts of the country.

A Thames Water spokesman described water supplies as "very healthy" while South West Water confirmed its reservoirs are ready to cope with the annual surge in demand sparked by tourism. Total storage in the region's 21 reservoirs now stands at 94.7% - with five completely full - compared with 88.5% at this time last year.

Spokesman Neil Whiter said: "We have not needed to introduce restrictions since 1996 and we fully expect to continue that record through 2013."

Marcus O'Kane of Severn Trent Water said: "We are confident that we're in a good position to provide our customers with a continuous supply of water throughout the year. But we would still ask our customers to be sensible with the amount of water they use as you never know when the next drought might be."

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