Water companies warn hosepipe bans could last all summer
Water restrictions are set to come into force for southern and eastern England customers later this week as seven water companies pull the plug on hosepipe use.
This follows last month's warning that restrictions are likely to be enforced this spring as a result of a drier than average autumn, winter and early spring which has left reservoir levels seriously low and parts of the country in drought
Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are the first seven companies to enforce restrictions, with some of these restrictions coming into force on April 5 in the form of a hosepipe ban.
It is also thought that many water companies will keep the ban in place over the summer period as any rainfall over the warmer months is unlikely to restock reservoirs sufficiently as the rain is used by plants or lost to evaporation.
Thames Water chief executive Martin Baggs warned that anyone who "wilfully" breaches the terms of water-use bans will be prosecuted, adding that the company may be forced to extend the ban to commercial customers.
He said: "If the dry weather continues, none of us can rule out the possibility of applying for a Drought Order from Defra, which would result in extended water use restrictions, most of which will affect commercial customers - something we want to avoid if at all possible."
Last week the Environment Agency (EA), which recently published its Drought Prospects Report revealed that drought had also spread to Yorkshire after a dry month left river levels and underground water supplies depleted. However, it said that it was unlikely that public water supplies would be affected.
EA head of water resources Trevor Bishop, said: "We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought."