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 489.

    "There hasn't been a major reservoir built in England since 1978
    It's a good job the socialists invested, the capitalists haven't!

    I have good news for you.



  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    486.Mr Max
    larger supplies of water with reservoirs like kielder water all over the country no hosepipe ban (luckily I don't have a car or garden).
    With the money paid out in dividends to people like me the problem could have solved before it became one if investment had taken place to prevent the shortages. There is no excuse for not investing in your product for your market

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    The links between extreme weather and climate change are discussed here:


    Look particularly at the temperature bell curve diagrams in the article and the way the temperature bell curves have changed over the last four decades.
    Rainfall patterns seem to be showing similar changes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    484. Dave1506
    you can have a hosepipe ban but for every day you have one you the company must pay £100 per customer back bills can only increase by inflation. Sudden increase in infrastructure or massive losses for the owners."

    Are people just willfully ignorant these days?

    The ban was caused by the driest March in decades. Investment doesn't make it rain more! Why is this so hard to grasp?

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    Do a bit of research before mocking others about failing to get the difference between weather & climate.
    Actually don't, I love to laugh at zealots!
    Climate = Weather averaged over time
    OR, for the feeble minded, the difference between weather and climate is simple maths & TIME
    Average weather also cuts the effect of peaks & lows, which is another hole in the zealots' arguments :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    474.Michael Lloyd
    2 Hours ago
    easier make the shares worthless, you can have a hosepipe ban but for every day you have one you the company must pay £100 per customer back bills can only increase by inflation. Sudden increase in infrastructure or massive losses for the owners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    474. Michael Lloyd

    Nonsense! Nationalise it without compensation on the grounds that the companies have failed to provide the service. Job done."

    Not sure what service you are expecting. You turn your tap on; water comes out, you pay your bill. What failure? The ban is due to lack of rainfall.

    That argument would be laughed out of court and the Gov. would be forced to pay £100s of billions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    I am well aware of what was predicted
    Your children won't know snow - wrong
    Long hot dry summers - wrong
    Vineyards flourish all over UK - wrong
    Ice free Himalayas - wrong
    First it was Gobal warming - when that didn't fit they changed it to MMCC
    You and other zealots/idiots say climate changes are unpredictable BUT then ask everyone else to accept long term predictions re climate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    Put the bosses of the water companies in charge of the economy, since they said there was a drought it hasn't stopped raining, so if they were to say we're in a recession....................................

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    Never had a hosepipe ban.
    Never had a water meter.
    Water bill not excessive.
    Water supply company not privatised.


  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    my my i have upset people today, look at my post 193, then read 211,only saying what i think folks, we seem to be able to waste cash on a biblical scale,cash we supposedly dont have yet we cut investment in uk to the bare bones,can you tell me where the sense is in that,and before labour loonies speak its ALL pol colours to blame none of em have a spine, time for radical change a new party is reqd

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    The Middle Eastern countries all have desalination plants that generate ample water for their populations. They also have massive gas reserves. The gas is burnt in turbines to drive electric gererators for the grid. The exhaust gases are used to boil sea water to make steam which is condensed to make water. Simple! We need is to find massive gas reserves under UK soil, there lies the problem!

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    Weather forecasting is not a science it's a guessing game where the pundits so often get it totally wrong despite the sophisticated equipment at their disposal. Better to stick with the seaweed test and a bit of humility would not go amiss. Instead of more windfarms build better flood defences and renew and maintain our ancient Victorian drainage systems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    Prof. Higgs has found a break through in physics sience, a new partical in an atom.But I am sad to say this is not true for weather science.Ever since the BBC/MET OFFICE mentioned a Barbeque summer 5 years ago,we have had 5 bad summers in a row in the north of England.They cannot forcast 5 days in advance. They get it wrong and SO Blame Global Warming. A pathetic excuse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    Water is just another commodity for the stock exchange to play with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    Some posts here have been asking why not renationalise the water companies. The problem with that is that the government will have to pay market rates to renationalise it. The present owners will not be giving it away and it is very profitable."

    Nonsense! Nationalise it without compensation on the grounds that the companies have failed to provide the service. Job done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    463.Total Mass Retain
    Sceptics argue that the predictions of wet summers have not been made. Climate models can predict the energy content of the climate, not how it is distributed at the local level. They cannot predict where the jet stream flows in any year
    There are some long range forcasters that seem to be able to do just that, saying that it is linked to solar activity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    458.Eddy from Waring
    Yes Yorkshire is the best we have some of the best countryside

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    460.Total Mass Retain
    "Sidney Monroe
    'Don't forget are children will never know what snow is "
    That was a selectively quoted headline which did not represent the peer reviewed science.
    This is why I doubt whether you have a PHd.Viner actually said:“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” which a search reveals in seconds. It has got nothing to do with the headline.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Has the word "Average" been cut out of the dictionaries of water companies & the media? It's a historical fact in the UK that when there is dearth of rainfall there'll always be a matching glut to follow. It's not complicated, all it needs is to spend money on providing the system with enough buffering to average out peaks and valleys in supply, shareholder divvies should come out AFTER that.


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