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 109.

    A medium term solution has to be every household, rich and poor, big and small gets a water meter.

    It's fair, will make people think about water usage and will have real benefits.

    Businesses can pay at a subsidised rate if their industrial output requires lots of water.

    Pay as you go water.... A good way to make people responsible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    All this talk of jetstreams and tsunamis is sheer nonsense. The cause of wet weather is perfectly obvious. Soon as they announced a hosepipe ban, it started to rain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    What good news.

    What next...

    Today water companies announce that there will be a pay in tariff for sewage created by customers...Here's Tom with the Weather



  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Until we have a government with the gonads to tie together future rainfall in an area, future consumer availability in that area and the continuing existence of privatised water in that area then we shall see nothing better. The threat a return to public ownership without compensation might focus minds.
    Way too strong for Dead Ed, Harperson and the rest of NuLab, though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Water is easily moved great distances, the whole hosepipe ban occurs every year as the beginning of the PR campaign instigated by the water companies to then allow themselves to raise prices, thankfully for the past few years our weather has foiled them each time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    97. Piglet
    Could someone please explain what we have gained by the “privatisation” of the water companies?

    A small number of people have got very rich, we will call these the 'have's' (GAIN ALERT!!)

    A large number of people have been held to ransom for an essential life resource with ever increasing bills, we will call these the 'have not's' (UNLUCKY SUCKERS)

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Excellent. I was just thinking my garden looked desperately under-watered. Not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Really.... and how many people have had to use a hose pipe since April? All the bans show is a total lack of investment in the UK water industry as a whole. It really should be operating as ONE entity. With water pumped from area to area as required, sure it is expensive to do but when needs must. I'd suggest looking at canals too. They are means of moving water about.and they are already built.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    And why in 13 years of power, and with unprecedented authority did LABOUR refuse to address this problem?
    -Probably because by 1997 The Tories had already sold off all the Water Companies !

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    This is the wettest drought I've ever seen. It's about time we got a choice in who supplies us water, it might help drive prices down for us here in the south west.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Perhaps there may be a chance that at last we may get some decent Weather as since they all started windging on about Reservoir Levels etc. etc. it's not stopped Raining !

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    another example of this country's inability to manage resources, i remember speaking to staff from the environment agency in 2000 when we had serious flooding in our area,quote 400,000 gals of water per sec were flowing into the rivers off the central welsh hills, i guess its the same scenario now, why cant we manage it, cos they dont want to because we must pay the premium,cynical i know but true

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Could someone please explain what we have gained by the “privatisation” of the water companies?
    Large tracts of our land has got into the hands of foreign companies and virtually no investment in the infrastructure.
    So much for ideological politics!

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The water companies now need to invest in the infrastructure in order to maximise water availability when it does rain (however much or little) instead of creaming off the profits for themselves and their shareholders. It would have the added effect of reducing flooding. Between them, the Met Office and the water companies couldn't predict gravity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    My thoughts are that not many people felt the need to use hosepipes to water their gardens this summer so the hosepipe ban was redundant anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    I wonder if this is in any way related to the tsunamis recently experienced. We know that oceans are big influencers of the weather and that tsunamis cause big shifts in ocean waters - can they possibly be related??? It's never mentioned as a cause

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Make it scarce and you can pick your price, it's justification for high prices. It's the oldest trick in the book. So tell me water companies, how do they manage in hot countries like Spain, Greece, Saudi Arabia? I never hear of a hose pipe ban in those countries. Make it scarce and you can pick your price, it's justification for high prices. It's the oldest trick in the book.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Some people's memories are in serious need of medical attention. At the beginning of April, reservoirs and aquifers were heavily depleted. If we had then entered a dry summer such as that of 1976 then we'd be in a far worse state by now. It is only the excessive rainfall that has reversed the situation. The ban was needed, since predicting the weather for months ahead is never guaranteed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    What they mean is that there is enough rainfall now to see them through and account for the leakages they refuse to repair due to the need for profit.
    When will the consumers in the UK realise that these people have power because we don't challenge them. And why is that? Because half of us are scared of putting our heads above the pulpit and the rest just can't be bothered. So it will continue

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    I wouldn't pay to privatise it. Instead I would put in place strict rules to force the water companies to provide the service they were created to provide.

    Each day there is a hose-pipe ban anywhere in their service area, they are fined 1% of their companies shares. Each day there are standpipes, they are fined 10%. Price rises capped at inflation.

    We've had enough of their games.


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