Hosepipe bans: Final four companies lift restrictions


The "abnormal rainfall" has led to the last hosepipe bans being lifted

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The final four water companies in England with hosepipe bans in place have lifted them, in a move affecting about six million domestic customers.

South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast imposed the restrictions on water use in April.

They followed two dry winters but end after "abnormally heavy rainfall".

Meanwhile, the Festival of British Eventing in Gloucestershire has been cancelled because of the weather.

And farmers have warned that the supply of home grown fruit and vegetables could be severely hampered by the ongoing wet weather.

Surface water in some parts of the UK has prevented producers from gathering crops, such as peas, and that tonnes are being left to rot in the fields.

Water officials said they had expected the bans to remain throughout the summer.

Anglian Water, Southern Water and Thames Water lifted their bans in June.

The announcement comes after a weekend in which a number of communities across Britain were hit by flooding following torrential downpours, and forecasters warn there is more rain on the way.

'Use wisely'

The four water companies said ground water supplies, which they were heavily dependent on, had recovered enough for the bans to be lifted.

Start Quote

The recharge in the aquifers brought about by the abnormally heavy spring rainfall is most welcome”

End Quote Mike Hegarty Sutton and East Surrey Water

Between them they cover all or part of a number of counties in the south and south-east of England, including Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Double the normal average amount of rain for June fell last month, and April was the wettest since records began more than a century ago.

In a joint statement, the four firms said: "The companies would all like to thank their customers for complying with the restrictions and supporting their plea to use water wisely.

"This has kept demand for water well below levels normally experienced at this time of year.

"Significant - or indeed any - recharge of underground resources at this time of year is most unusual but it follows the abnormally heavy rainfall experienced since spring which has finally brought to an end the severe drought after two dry winters."

Mike Hegarty, operations director for Sutton and East Surrey Water, said the hosepipe ban had been expected to be in place throughout the summer.

"The recharge in the aquifers brought about by the abnormally heavy spring rainfall is most welcome," he said.

"Normally winter rainfall recharges the aquifers. The recharge is unprecedented and is the highest increase in water levels ever recorded in our area at this time of year."

However, Mike Pocock, water resources manager at Veolia Water Central, struck a note of caution and urged customers to continue to use water wisely.

'Summer on hold'

"While most welcome, this recovery in the aquifers does not remove the underlying problems caused by the drought and we are continuing to plan for the possibility of a third dry winter," he said.

The development followed deluges that prompted weather and flood warnings over many parts of Britain at the weekend.

Heavy rain brought flash flooding to areas of West Yorkshire for the third time in just over two weeks on Monday.

Parts of the Calder Valley, including Hebden Bridge, saw a month's worth of rain fall in three hours.

The Environment Agency said 80% of river flows were now above normal or higher, with reservoirs showing a good recovery and just 11 groundwater sites below normal water levels - and two "exceptionally low".

A spokeswoman said: "The threat of drought this summer is now no longer on the cards, but if we have another - a third - dry winter, we're going to need to look at whether drought is possible for next summer."

Polly Chancellor, Environment Agency national drought co-ordinator, said: "We remain vigilant as another dry winter could see a return to low water levels next year.

"We are working with water companies and others to put plans in place to reduce the impacts on people and the environment should this happen."

There are no longer any weather warnings in place but there are still a number of flood warnings and flood alerts in place in England and in Scotland.

A flood warning means immediate action is required, and a flood alert means people should be prepared for possible flooding.

BBC weather forecaster Sarah Keith-Lucas said summer was still on hold, with a rainy, cool and breezy week ahead.

The co-organiser of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, Captain Mark Phillips, said that the "unprecedented rainfall" over the last month had produced "exceptionally wet ground conditions".

He added: "We did everything possible to ensure that the event took place but sadly the hard-working ground crew have been defeated by the weather."

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  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Climate variation.....which they like to call abnormal, we have always dealt with.

    The infrastructure is not bad....when do we actually never have water to use?

    Our only real problem is this: our islands are finite in area, finite in water catchment and its expected to provide for a huge and ever increasing population. For that their is no fix.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Must leave work early tonight.

    Garden desperately needs watering!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.


    "...Things were fine in Britain, until our Government imported millions of extra people..."


    Some "things" might have been "fine", but most of those that were, and are not now, seem little to do with immigration.

    You might as well blame the UK people, who had lots of kids after WWII, for the water supply problems today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    We need to build more reservoirs but all the water boards are interested in is making profit

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Can someone explain why a couple of dry spells in the UK leads to drought fears and panic, yet warmer climates like Australia seem to get by without such a constant threat?

    I've heard suggestions that it's not the rainfall that is the issue, but the out of date system in the UK by which water is stored?

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Phew... it was becoming a real pain having to use a bucket to fill the swimming pool...

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    As a nation of the free, we have far too many masters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    #66 The shortage of water was in the south and south of England mainly; most of the rest of the country is OK, so actually what is needed is a National Grid for water as there is for electricity. All utilities/rail should be under a single national authority, as in Scotland(?); as competition in individual energy types and water is wasteful. There's a case only for privatised desalination plants.

  • Comment number 81.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    "The companies would all like to thank their customers for complying with the restrictions and supporting their plea to use water wisely.

    What a load of rubbish! The only reason customers haven't used the usual amount of water (other than being sick of the sight of it) is that there is no need to water the garden, which should be our right seeing as we are forced to go onto a water meter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.


    While I agree with most of your post, this 'free' water has to be processed and piped to your house, so there has to be a charge. This service however, should not be a profit making organisation for the the very fact water is essential for us staying alive.

  • Comment number 78.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Typical bureaucratic silliness, what is the point of lifting the ban, do they now think with all this rain we are going to dash out and use hosepipes, just pointless banning it in the first place, it always gets replenished pretty quick in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    What should really depress us in this miserable summer is that all this water that is ruining people's lives will be allowed to run off into the sea. There is no incentive for private water companies to hold onto it, because it is better for them to have a small amount of expensive water than a huge amount of cheap stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The trouble with the nationalised industries in the past was the lack of investment in infrastructure. The whole system was in melt down. Well it was being run by the public sector! However, the way they were sold off is equally wrong. The whole system of how commodities are run is nothing short of blackmail. We have no choice as we all need water, electricty, gas. It needs rethinking!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Mmmmm, I wonder. what sort of effect a similar ban in the financial and political sectors would have?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    A huge percentage of water shortage must be caused by old, leaking mains pipes. Some time ago, a friend of mine, living alone since her children had left home, decided to have a meter installed, so as to economise on water bills. When she opened her first post-meter bill, she went into shock. £5,000 - I kid you not. Deep underground, the mains supply had fractured. Just one example........

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Has the Ofwat quango secured commitment from the privateers for infrastructure investment and/or dependent bonus deferrals?

    If not, what is the point of Ofwat?

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I would like to thank the Sutton & East Surrey Water Company from the heart of my bottom. My hosepipe has floated away and my garden is a quagmire, so ending the ban is extremely helpful.


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