Hosepipe ban announced after one of the driest winters

Bewl Water reservoir, above, which supplies drinking water for Hastings, running at a seriously low level in December last year Picture by Ed Robinson
Bewl Water reservoir, above, which supplies drinking water for Hastings, running at a seriously low level in December last year Picture by Ed Robinson

A HOSEPIPE ban will be introduced across the county next month as the region suffers its worst lack of rainfall since the infamous summer of 1976.

Southern Water will enforce restrictions on water use for the first time since 2005/6 following the second driest 12 months on record.

From April 5, the company is restricting the use of hosepipes and sprinklers in Kent and Sussex.

The restrictions apply to customers whose water is supplied by Southern Water and primarily cover domestic use.

The ban also forbids the watering of public parks, gardens and allotments, the filling of swimming pools, paddling pools, ponds and fountains.

Southern Water is one of seven UK water companies introducing similar measures covering much of the South and East of England.

According to the Environment Agency, some parts of the south east have just seen the second driest 12 months on record and the region is now in drought. Nine of the past 16 months have seen below average rainfall and from October to January the south east received, on average only 73 per cent of normal rainfall needed to fill reservoirs, rivers and underground sources ready for use in the summer.

Southern Water strat-egy manager, Meyrick Gough, said: “These measures are being brought in following an exceptionally dry 12 months. Thanks to improvements made to our supply network, which enables us to move water from areas with a surplus to those with a shortage, our lowest ever leakage level, the ongoing installation of 500,000 water meters and customers being more water efficient, we are in a better position than we would have been in these circumstances in previous years.

“But, as the weather gets warmer, the demand will rise. Therefore to safeguard supplies throughout the summer we need to restrict the amount of water used in gardens.”

Gardening watering is usually about six per cent of that supplied but on a hot day this can increase to 70 per cent. A garden sprinkler alone uses more than 1,000 litres of water an hour, which is enough to supply six people for a whole day.

Councillor Trevor Webb, lead member for Leisure, at Hastings Borough Council, said: “The main demands for water are for hanging baskets, summer bedding displays on the seafront, and the bowling greens, should weather conditions make it necessary. “We have reduced the number of hanging baskets to cover the main town centre only. Each basket has a water reservoir and uses a water retaining compound in the compost to conserve water.

“With the Environment Agency’s permission we can use water taken from the streams and reservoirs in Alexandra Park to water the hanging baskets. We can also use these water sources to water the summer bedding displays, reducing the need to use mains water.

“We will monitor conditions throughout the season to see if any further measures are necessary to reduce our water usage, but we believe we are well prepared should the water shortage continue.”

Full details of restrictions are available by visiting www.southernwater.co.uk.