Water company lifts hosepipe ban

Folkestone and Dover Water was the first South-East England supplier to lift its hosepipe ban after rains replenished water levels, the company has announced.

Water levels have recovered in all sources, buoyed by near average rainfall over the last six months, with the situation further aided by a 4% fall in demand as customers acted on calls to save water, Folkestone and Dover said.

“The water position in our area is now better than it was at this time last year and we are now well placed to benefit from the autumn, winter and spring rains,” said the company’s managing director David Walton.

But despite downpours in the region in recent days water use restrictions remained in force across the region this week, with the use of hosepipes and sprinklers banned in five South Eastern supply areas and a drought order still in force for the customers of Sutton and East Surrey Water.

The Environment Agency stressed that Folkestone and Dover’s move “does not mean the wider drought is over,” and that groundwater monitoring boreholes are at their lowest recorded levels in some areas of the dry south-eastern region, which depends on groundwater for three-quarters of its supply.

“Folkestone and Dover Water’s decision to lift its hosepipe ban is based on the local circumstances in East Kent where a lot of rain has fallen in recent months,” said Environment Agency head of water resources Ian Barker.

“We have to stress the drought in the south east is not over. If there is another dry winter, next year could still be difficult for the environment and for water,” he said.

The Environment Agency acknowledged the role of effective water saving by Folkestone and Dover’s 160,000 customers.

The company is currently the only water supplier in the country with the right to install compulsory water meters on a phased basis, with around 50% of customers already metered and 90% expected by 2015.

Customers with water meters have to pay for the amount of water they use rather than a fixed rate, which tends to reduce their water use by 10-15% on average, according to Folkestone and Dover.

The company, which was recently rated top performing water company by Ofwat, is also planning to invest £27m in infrastructure and new sources.

Goska Romanowicz

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