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Water companies report ‘huge demand’ on network from hot weather

Severn Trent apologised for low pressure in a number of areas.

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A view of the water level at Hanningfield reservoir (Nick Ansell/PA)

A view of the water level at Hanningfield reservoir (Nick Ansell/PA)

A view of the water level at Hanningfield reservoir (Nick Ansell/PA)

Water companies have reported “huge demand” on the network due to hot weather and people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Severn Trent apologised for “low pressure” in a number of areas, which it said followed some of the highest demand the company had ever seen.

The company is one of many across the UK urging people to save water.

“We’re all enjoying the warm weather, but with more of us at home due to the Covid-19 precautions, there’s been a big increase in demand for water and that’s causing low pressure in some areas,” Severn Trent said.

“Our amazing team of keyworkers have been working round the clock to keep water flowing throughout lockdown, and they’re still working as hard as ever.

“We’re bringing in extra water and moving it around our network to help where there’s higher demand, but we’re also asking everyone to do what they can to help save water.”

South East Water said demand had “skyrocketed”, with the company treating and pumping an additional 78 million litres per day through its network.

It said more water was being used on DIY projects and gardens, contributing to the additional 14% of water being used.

“Garden sprinklers alone use as much water in an hour as a family of six uses in a day, which contributes to an increased demand of 70% on hot days,” the company said.

“This extra water use puts an increasing strain on the extensive network of pipes, pumping stations and treatment works we look after, and it can lead to low pressure or a loss of water for some customers at times of peak demand such as the early evening.”

Southern Water warned that people were using between 10% and 20% more than usual during lockdown, with an increased demand in hot weather.

The company said on some days of lockdown, demand had increased by 60 million litres.

“With people in lockdown, we don’t want to be ‘fun police’, but people can take simple steps to preserve precious resources – making sure your dishwasher and washing machine are run on full loads and turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth are great ways to save water and use less energy,” it added.

“Reducing usage in gardens is especially important – if you you’re using a paddling pool, please reuse the water on plants instead of pouring it away, for example.”

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People have been urged to save water in any way they can during the hot weather (Martin Keene/PA)

People have been urged to save water in any way they can during the hot weather (Martin Keene/PA)

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People have been urged to save water in any way they can during the hot weather (Martin Keene/PA)

South West Water said gardening was typically accounting for the “additional demand” the company was seeing, with the month of May on track to be the driest since records began.

Demand for water across some parts of the Thames Valley soared by a record 158 million litres per day over the past week, Thames Water said.

On Monday, the company pumped an extra 63 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water through its network – around a third more than normal.

Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager at Thames Water, said: “Increased temperatures mean increased demand for our water, which stresses our network’s ability to produce it fast enough and accelerates the draw on rivers and underground aquifers.

“Making every drop count inside and outside our homes by taking shorter showers, turning off sprinklers and reusing water where possible, means we can all help keep taps flowing in our communities so everyone can still have access to water for the essentials like hand washing and staying hydrated.”

Wessex Water told customers that it was not running out of water but “getting it through pipes quickly enough is proving challenging”.

United Utilities reported “big increases” in demand that could lead to low water pressure in some areas and asked customers to save water where possible.

Yorkshire Water said it had pumped an extra 140 million litres of water on some days.

In Bristol, thousands of people were left without water or had low pressure after a water main fractured in the early hours of Saturday.

Bristol Water said tankers were on site to provide water to those left without and urged customers to maintain social distancing.

In a message to customers, it said: “Please remain calm and do not crowd the tankers, we have plenty of water available.

“There will be precautions in place to maintain social distancing, but we are relying on you to help us run this as smoothly as possible by queuing properly and sticking to the guidelines.

“If you can also bring your own containers, this will also help us keep things moving swiftly.”

PA