United Utilities calls off hosepipe ban after recent rainfall
But the firm warned there was still a possibility of restrictions for millions of customers if more rain does not arrive in the coming weeks.
United Utilities has called off its planned hosepipe ban for millions of customers in the north west of England.
The company was due to bring in the restrictions on August 5 but said that slightly cooler temperatures, recent rainfall and water-saving efforts by customers had meant it did not need to introduce them at the moment.
But the firm warned there was still a possibility of restrictions if more rain did not arrive in the coming weeks.
The UK has seen its driest first half of the summer on record, and last month was the third hottest July recorded, but much of the country saw cool, wet, windy weather last weekend.
The long-range forecast from the Met Office is one of relatively dry weather into the autumn, so future restrictions are still a possibility if more rain doesn’t arrive Dr Martin Padley, water services director
Dr Martin Padley, water services director, said: “Given the improved position, helped by recent rainfall, we do not want to inconvenience customers unnecessarily at this time.
“However, the long-range forecast from the Met Office is one of relatively dry weather into the autumn, so future restrictions are still a possibility if more rain doesn’t arrive.”
The move appears to be an abrupt turnaround as on Wednesday night, United Utilities (UU) was still insisting the hosepipe ban would start on Sunday.
Since the ban was announced last month, UU and the other privatised water companies have come under pressure over the way the industry is run and the amount of water they waste by failing to fix leaks while making billions in profit.
We’re pleased to say that the hosepipe ban due to start on the 5th August has been called off. The recent rainfall has gone some way to helping with water supplies. Read our full update here https://t.co/64b776ALIh #2018WaterWatch— United Utilities (@unitedutilities) August 2, 2018
Critics say instead of fixing leaks, water firm bosses have been giving out bumper payments to shareholders and awarding themselves bonuses.
UU is the second worst at fixing leaks, losing 133 litres per property per day in 2016/17, according to figures from the Consumer Council for Water.
The total daily figure across the North West region is 439 million litres – or more than 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of water down the plug hole every single day, according to figures compiled by the GMB Union.
And across England and Wales, three billion litres of treated water were lost through leaks every single day in 2017, according to the union’s figures.
Dr Padley insisted leakage teams were working 24 hours a day to find and repair as many leaks as possible.
And the company was making changes to operations including installing new pumping stations, pumping between reservoirs and bringing groundwater sources into use.
He urged customers to continue taking steps to save water in their homes and gardens.
In the South East, Thames Water also called on customers to save water as temperatures looked set to soar to 30C again this weekend, pushing up demand for supplies.
Following a “drought summit” between farming leaders and officials on Wednesday, the Environment Agency said it would allow farmers more flexibility in taking water from rivers in the face of threats to crops and livestock.