Drought: Three water firms to lift hosepipe ban amid flood alerts
Three water companies are to lift their hosepipe bans from midnight on Wednesday, after further heavy rain.
Seven firms restricted water use in April to combat drought in southern and eastern England after two dry winters.
But the restrictions were followed by record rainfall across England that month, and more rain in May and June.
The move by Anglian, Southern and Thames comes after flooding in England and Wales, with more heavy rain forecast and flood warnings in place.
The run of wet weather significantly improved river levels and reservoir stocks, and reduced the risk of drought and widespread water restrictions this summer, the Environment Agency has said.
South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast have confirmed their hosepipe bans remain in place due to low levels of groundwater.
They said they would continue to monitor the situation and keep the restrictions under review.
Richard Aylard, sustainability director for Thames Water, which has 8.8m customers in London and the Thames Valley, said: "We don't need a ban, but we do need to ask everyone to keep on using water wisely."
Paul Valleley, Anglian Water's director of water services, which supplies customers in the east of England and Hartlepool, said three months-worth of winter rain in April had "made all the difference".
Southern Water's water quality and strategy manager Meyrick Gough said it was "right" to lift the restrictions.
Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, welcomed the news of behalf of customers, but added "they still need reassurance that where water companies have lifted their bans longer term supply is not at risk.
"We also need to see the planning of water resources evolve to make sure water restrictions on customers are kept to a minimum."Rain and flooding
Flood warning terms
- Severe Flood Warning: Severe floods - danger to life
- Flood Warning: Flooding expected - take immediate action
- Flood Alert: Flooding possible - be prepared
Meanwhile, parts of England Wales face further risk of flooding on Wednesday afternoon, with heavy rain forecast.
The Environment Agency has issued two flood warnings and 18 flood alerts, including 13 in the South East of England.
In particular, people in Devon, Cornwall, west Somerset, North Wales and parts of the Midlands have been urged to be aware.
As yet, there are no severe flood warnings - the highest alert, meaning there is a danger to life.
The Met Office also issued a severe weather warning for Wednesday for south-west England, parts of the West Midlands and Wales. The warning is at a "yellow" level which means "be aware".
A spokeswoman said thundery downpours are expected on Wednesday afternoon, which could give up to 20mm of rain in any one place.Continue reading the main story
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BBC Weather forecaster Laura Gilchrist added that "warning zones" could see localised surface flooding.
She said parts of England, including the South East, were now seeing brighter weather but more wet weather is expected across many parts on Thursday.
Heavy rain since the weekend led to around 1,000 people being evacuated from homes and caravan parks in Mid Wales on Saturday.
And flooding caused more disruption in England on Tuesday - particularly in parts of West Sussex, where more than 20 people were rescued from flooded caravans at two holiday parks and the village of Elmer was evacuated.
During Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons on Wednesday, David Cameron said he would work towards ensuring swift action to help homeowners in flood-hit communities.
The impact of adverse weather and flooding is still being dealt with in parts of England and Wales on Wednesday afternoon, including the following incidents:
- In West Sussex, a herd of cows have been saved from 5ft of fast-flowing water by animal charity officers - they got stuck after the River Arun burst its banks near their field
- The Environment Agency is investigating whether or not sea defences in West Sussex trapped flood water, making flooding there worse
- Laburnum Grove Junior School in Bognor Regis remained shut on Wednesday due to serious flooding, and is not expected to reopen until next Tuesday
- Floodwater is being pumped away from parts of West Sussex after many people were forced to flee their homes
- The Environment Agency has also sent equipment to pump out floodwater in Newburn, near Newcastle, where a collapsed culvert caused a build-up of water on the River Dene
- Flood-hit businesses in Mid Wales have reported cancellations with some companies set to be offered government support
- A major clean-up operation continues in Aberystwyth and the nearby villages of Talybont, Dol-y-Bont and Llandre and other areas affected by the flooding
- Residents in Leeds have launched a clean-up of damaged properties after flash floods hit parts of West Yorkshire at the weekend
- Roads in various parts of the country have been affected by rain and surface floods -the BBC's Travel Unit has full details of delays
The Environment Agency has urged people to remain vigilant and to check its website for the latest information.
It "strongly" advised the public to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood waters.12 months of drought