Underground sources still not recovered

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DESPITE the wettest April since records began and Bewl Water rising to 74 per cent full, the hosepipe ban remains in place for the long-term.

After the recent downpours some counties had their drought status lifted, but the South East remains dry and the ban introduced by five Kent water companies is still in place.

The temporary use ban was put in place on April 5 to restrict water use after two years of low winter rainfall.

Water companies have said their underground resources still haven’t recovered but they are hopeful a wet winter will help.

A spokesman for Southern Water said: “Our resources are still recovering from two years of prolonged dry weather and we still need more rain to replenish the underground stocks.

“The restrictions are about long-term planning and we need to consider the possibility of, and prepare for, a third dry winter which could lead to restrictions next summer.”

Southern Water’s Bewl Water in Lamberhurst is 30 per cent more full than it was in February and South East Water’s Ardingly reservoir in West Sussex is now 86 per cent full. Arlington reservoir in East Sussex reached 100 per cent full recently.

A South East Water spokesman said: “The temporary use ban will remain in place until we are confident water resources have returned to levels that ensure we have enough water to meet demands this summer and in 2013.

“The recent rainfall has shown some very early signs of recovery in the underground chalk aquifers but we have yet to see any such signs in our deeper sandstone aquifers so whilst it has been very helpful, the rain will not be enough to remove this drought status.”

The Environment Agency’s drought update shows the wettest April on record and continuing rainfall in May have significantly increased river and reservoir levels, allowing the drought status to be removed from South West England, the Midlands, and parts of Yorkshire.

But, unlike Kent, these counties didn’t have any water restrictions in place.

Recently three Kent suppliers, Southern Water, South East Water and Veolia Water Southeast, gave Kent councils an update on the current status of water resources and discussed the effect of the recent rainfall.

There are no plans for another meeting but the water companies say they will continue to work closely with the councils.

Southern Water’s water quality and strategy manager, Meyrick Gough, said: “The continued rain this month is good news for the region’s water resources. We’re moving in the right direction but our main sources still have to recover from one of the driest periods of weather on record.

“To help them do this we will be continuing with our water restrictions on hosepipes and sprinklers in Kent and Sussex. We continue to monitor the situation and will keep customers updated.”

Both Southern Water and South East Water say they have no plans to put restrictions on commercial customers at present.



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