Dry areas of England are facing a hose ban due to very dry conditions and ahead of another predicted heat wave.
Outhern Water announced the transition from Friday for customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, while the measure follows exactly one week later for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex.
Months of low rainfall, combined with record temperatures in July, resulted in exceptionally low river levels, depleted reservoirs and drying up of the soil.
All this puts pressure on the environment, agriculture and water supply, and contributes to forest fires.
The Met Office warned that “very little meaningful rain” is expected on the horizon of England’s drylands as temperatures soar to 30 degrees next week.
While this could mean another wave of heat – when temperatures are above average for three or more days – it is likely that conditions will be well below the 40°C seen in some places last month.
The situation has sparked calls for action to reduce water use to protect the environment and resources, and to restore the country’s lost wetlands “on a massive scale” to deal with future drier summers and droughts.
Southern Water said it is asking customers to “restrict water use to reduce the risk of further restrictions and interruptions to water supply, but more importantly to protect our local rivers.”
South East Water said it was “left with no other choice but to limit the use of hoses and sprinklers” from midnight Aug. 12 in Kent and Sussex “until further notice”.
The firm added that it is taking steps “to ensure that we have enough water for both basic needs and to protect the environment” and to reduce the amount of water “that we need to take from local sources that are already under pressure.” water”.
Other water companies have so far refrained from imposing restrictions despite low water levels, though some say they may have to impose bans if the dry weather continues.
Households that have not yet been affected by the restrictions are urged to avoid using hoses to water the garden or wash the car.
The Thames Water desalination plant in Beckton, east London, which was built to deliver up to 100 million liters of water per day in dry weather, is currently out of service.
Parts of England had their driest July on record dating back to 1836, after the nation’s driest eight-month period since November 2021 since 1976.
According to the Met Office, there are signs of a return to more variable weather patterns from around mid-August.
Nature campaigners have criticized water companies for leaving the “last possible moment” to impose restrictions when rivers are in a “desperate” state and for last-minute announcements that encourage increased demand for water before they go into effect. hose restrictions.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of The Rivers Trust, said: “Every year we find ourselves in this precarious position, and at the last possible moment, when the water levels in the rivers are at their lowest, we are faced with the discussion of temporary use bans.
“The last-minute announcement of this has people rushing to wash their cars and refill baby pools, wash the dog and boost demand before the ban goes into effect.
“This must happen before the rivers become desperate and there is not enough water for wild animals.”
The Rivers Trust is calling for accelerated metering, rapidly reducing leaks, supporting households to reduce water use such as installing low-flow toilets and catch basins, and sustainable drainage including rain gardens, wetlands and permeable cover to create local water reserves. underground.