Water firms seek new curbs on use
Full drought restrictions are imminent in south-east England with three water companies having sought legal powers to ban non- essential use.
The watering of public gardens, parks, cricket pitches, bowling greens, allotments and other open spaces could be outlawed this summer if the Government grants the drought orders, sought by the companies because of what is now the driest spell in the region for more than 70 years.
Southern Water, Sutton and East Surrey, and Mid-Kent water firms asked permission yesterday from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to introduce the potentially wide-ranging restrictions, which could also affect car washing and the filling of privately owned swimming pools. The firms are increasingly anxious to conserve water resources as the South-east is suffering the driest 15-month period since at least 1933. Many aquifers [water tables] are severely depleted.
Individual water companies have the power to impose hosepipe bans, but a drought order requires permission from the Environment Secretary under the Water Resources Act 1991.
Paul Kent, the regulatory manager forSouthern Water, said: "We are not entering into this lightly. We need to conserve the water so that it is sufficient for basic hygiene throughout the rest of the year." He said it was possible that similar bans would be necessary next year and said water companies were ready to change their long-term policies if it seemed that global warming was permanently reducing rainfall.
Paul Butler, Mid-Kent Water's managing director, said it was "essential" that the powers were granted by Defra if water levels remained depleted.
The severity of the situation was underlined yesterday when eight water companies in the South-east joined the Environment Agency in asking for the public's help to conserve supplies. At Bewl Water reservoir on the Kent-East Sussex border, a website - www.beatthedrought. com - was unveiled which advises people how to conserve water, by taking steps such as turning off the tap as they brush their teeth.
Howard Davidson, the Environment Agency's regional director, said the South-east had had only 74 per cent of average rainfall since November 2004. "In only four months of the 16 months since November 2004 have we had rainfall above average," he said.
Three Valleys Water, which serves three million people in Essex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, north London and Middlesex, is the latest company to announce a hosepipe ban, starting in its case on 3 April. Britain's biggest water company, Thames, has announced a similar a ban, affecting eight million customers. Sutton and East Surrey Water, South East Water, Southern Water, Mid Kent Water, and Cholderton and District Water are also imposing bans.
Why are moths fatally attracted to light?
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
At long last, Australia is able to halt the relentless advance of the cane toad
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...