Southern Water drought order agreed

Environment Minister Elliot Morley has agreed to impose a drought order on Southern Water, allowing the company to reduce the water flow from Weir Wood reservoir to the River Medway.

Southern Water was the first company in the UK to issue water restrictions following the unusually dry winter this year (see related story).

It had requested a reduction of flow to 2.5 million litres a day in order to retain the water in the reservoir for drinking water supplies. However, the Environment Agency had said this would be unacceptable as the lower levels would be bad for wildlife.

Following a hearing before an independent Inspector, the Minister decided that on environmental grounds, the reduction should not fall below 3.6 million litres a day.

“I agree with the Inspector that the drought order should be granted for a higher compensation flow than was sought subject to compliance with measures that protect the environment,” Mr Morley said.

He added that the hosepipe ban had reduced demand by about 5% but that there could have been a greater saving with more sustained public awareness.

“This underlines the need for water companies to launch publicity campaigns and impose hosepipe bans at the right time if they are to realise appreciable savings in demand for water,” the Minister added.

Virtually all companies across the south of England have issued warnings over water restrictions or are taking action to combat the impending drought conditions (see related story).

By David Hopkins

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