England

Southern Water drought warning as dry winter looms

Bewl Water Image copyright David Hyland
Image caption Southern Water figures showed Bewl Water is at 34%

Warnings the South East could face a drought have come from a supplier as a second dry winter looms.

Ian McAulay, Southern Water chief executive, said water restrictions next summer were "certainly part of our scenario".

Figures from the company showed Bewl Water reservoir in Kent was at 34% and Darwell reservoir in Sussex is at 43%.

Two other Sussex reservoirs are better stocked - Powdermill is at 79% and Weir Wood is at 78%.

Fisherman Andrew Lush said: "These water levels are very rare. I mean, it didn't rain all of last winter."

And Rob Barden, another fisherman, said: "I've been here 21 years and it's the third time I've seen it like this."

Image caption Andrew Lush said the current water levels were very rare

Mr McAulay said: "We have had one dry winter. We're currently in a second dry winter, so we are looking at how do we replenish our stocks."

He said he had asked engineers whether conditions were similar to the 1976 drought and added: "We're coping with it. We take less water out of the environment now than we did in 1976 despite the fact that we have far more people living in the region."

More than 75% of the South East's water came from underground sources and the company was looking at how to recharge supplies, he added.

Customers are being urged to cut water consumption per person to 100 litres a day.

Average consumption in the UK is 150 litres a day per person, and in the South East 130 litres a day.

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