On Tuesday, Thames Water, Britain’s largest water company that serves mainly southern England lifted its hosepipe ban imposed when Britain experienced record-breaking heatwaves. Thames Water restricted hosepipe use on 15 million customers, and those in London and surrounding areas risked fines of £1,000 if caught watering their gardens.
The ban has been lifted after the southeast of England experienced 33 percent more rain than usual for this time of year.
There were fears that the hosepipe ban could have continued into 2023 when the Environmental Agency predicted some areas of the country would continue to be in drought status into next year.
However, Thames Water ended the ban by stating: “The wet weather throughout autumn has begun to make a real difference, following on from a year of below-average rain.
“In many places, the ground is becoming wet enough for water to sink down into the underground sources that feed local rivers.
“We still need more showers through the winter to continue filling underground sources and rivers, but our forecasts suggest that even 60 percent of normal winter rain will be enough to return to a healthy position.”
The southeast region has seen a month’s worth of rain in the first two weeks of November as they have had over 100 millimetres of rain compared to the long-term average of 75 millimetres.
This has been one of the wettest Novembers in at least five years, and other regions of Britain, such as Northern Ireland, the Orkney Islands and the southwest of England, currently have yellow rain warnings issued by the Met Office.
Thames Water in their statement thanked their customers for the “vital part” they had played by “using water wisely” and also added “we’re really grateful”.
The water company also announced they are currently fixing around 1,000 leaked pipes a week after they were previously criticised for their poor record of leaks, which the company has said is due to ageing infrastructure.
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The Chief Executive of Thames Water, Sarah Bentley, said: “Careful consideration has gone into our decision to remove the ban. Despite the recent rain, we still need to protect our future water supply.
“We need more rain throughout winter to ensure our rivers and reservoirs are fully recharged, ready for spring and summer next year.”
She added: “Whilst storage levels have improved at many of our reservoirs, we’re not out of the woods yet.
“Some sites in West London remain below average, which is why we’re adopting a cautious approach and carefully monitoring water levels throughout autumn and winter.
“It’s also why fixing leaks remains our top priority. We’re investing millions to upgrade infrastructure across the region.”
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It’s expected that more British water companies will begin to lift their hosepipe bans, with customers in Kent and Sussex expected to hear an announcement in the upcoming weeks.
The Head of Water Resouces at South East Water, Lee Dance, said: “We have been reviewing continually our water resource position and will be removing the Temporary Use Bans we have in place in Kent and Sussex soon.”
In Cornwall, the company South West Water has said their hosepipe ban will continue, and a spokesman said despite the rainfall their local reservoir has a much lower water supply than usual.
However, the company has £30 off their customer’s bills if the local Colliford Reservoir reaches 30 percent storage capacity by the end of the year.
Karen Gibbs, from the Consumer Council for Water, has warned: “Even though restrictions have been lifted for Thames Water customers, it’s still really important that people continue to use water wisely, as it will take a considerable time for the environment to fully recover from the drought.
“There also remain significant cost of living benefits to saving water which can take some of the heat out of energy and water bills, through simple steps like shortening your time in the shower or always ensuring your washing machine is fully loaded.”