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Drought conditions ‘could lead to spring hosepipe ban’

Affinity Water said the rain this week was not enough to make up for three years of dry weather.

A garden hose.
A garden hose.

By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Correspondent

A water company has warned that drought conditions mean it may need to introduce a hosepipe ban in the spring.

In a letter to customers, Affinity Water said there had been much less rain than normal over the last three years and as a result “we may need to introduce water restrictions in spring 2020”.

The letter arrived as much of the country was lashed by torrential downpours, with more heavy rain forecast over the coming days.

Affinity supplies more than 3.6 million people in parts of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, the London boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon and parts of the London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Enfield.

It also supplies the Tendring peninsula in Essex and the Folkestone and Dover areas of Kent.

The firm’s chief executive, Pauline Walsh, wrote: “Despite today’s wet weather it may come as a surprise that over the last three years we’ve had much less rain than normal.

“This means we are now in drought and we may need to introduce water restrictions (also known as a hosepipe ban) in spring 2020.

“We rely on rain, especially in winter, to supply your water. The rain this week is not enough to make up for three years of dry weather. There’s lots we’re doing but you can help too.”

The letter says customers would make a “real difference” by saving a bucket of water a day by, for example, reducing the length of showers by a minute or taking advantage of the rain and using a water butt for gardening.

Ms Walsh wrote: “We hope we can all work together to save water during this time, and we will be updating you throughout the autumn and winter.

“In the meantime, if you are affected by the heavy rain and you have concerns please visit the Environment Agency’s website.”

Affinity has failed its leakage target the past two years and that doesn’t send the right message to customers at a time when all of us need to play our part Mike Keil

The letter follows recent figures from the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) showing that Affinity failed its leakage target for a second successive year in 2018/19.

The company lost an average of 130 litres of water per property per day, making it the fourth worst performer across England and Wales.

Dr Mike Keil, head of policy and research at CCWater, said: “Customers can help to reduce the risk of restrictions next spring by using water as wisely as they can, but we also expect Affinity Water to be doing everything in its power to manage its resources effectively, including boosting its efforts to tackle leakage.

“Affinity has failed its leakage target the past two years and that doesn’t send the right message to customers at a time when all of us need to play our part in protecting our water resources from the demands of climate change and population growth.”

PA

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