Britain’s biggest water company is lifting its ‘hosepipe ban’ today, 14th June, after an extraordinary amount of rain eased the severity of the water shortage in the South and East.
Thames Water said “a heartfelt thank you” to the 8.8m people it supplies across London and the Thames Valley for complying with the Temporary Use Ban, helping save more than 100 million litres a day during the hot spell in May.
But with the possibility of a third dry winter in a row this year, the firm urged its customers to continue to use water wisely, reiterating its offer of free water-saving devices that can be ordered on the company website.
Hosepipe bans were imposed on April 5 by Thames Water and six other firms following the driest two-year period on record.
But within hours the heavens opened and stayed open, delivering more than two-and-a-half times the average rainfall in April, steady showers in May and further monsoon-style downpours so far in June with more forecast.
Although the record spring rain has enabled Thames Water to fill up its reservoirs, water levels in the natural storage basins deep underground remain low.
At this stage of the year, with plants and trees growing and sucking up much of the moisture, groundwater levels are not expected to recover fully until there is sustained winter rainfall that seeps deep into the ground.
Richard Aylard, sustainability director for Thames Water, said:
“We would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all our customers for complying with the restrictions, and for their ongoing efforts to use water wisely. They really are much appreciated.
“In early April things looked very different than they do now. We had had the two driest years on record and we had no idea how long it was going to stay dry.
“While we prepared for worst, bringing in restrictions to save water to ensure there would be enough if the dry spell continued, the topsy-turvy British weather had other ideas.
“Since we imposed the Temporary Use Ban just over two months ago, we have received an extraordinary amount of rain.
“We are really pleased we can now lift the ban but, with groundwater levels still low and the possibility of a third successive dry winter, we still need to be careful. We don’t need a ban, but we do need to ask everyone to keep on using water wisely.
“So if you’ve bought a water butt this year, please keep using it. If you’ve started taking shorter showers, please keep it up. And again, thanks for your help and understanding.”
In addition to the 100m litres of water a day saved by Thames Water customers adhering to the ban, the company is also 60m litres a day below its regulator-agreed leakage-reduction target for this year.
This has saved about 6% of the 2.6bn litres of water a day that the company supplies.
Earlier this week the company announced it had hit its sixth successive annual leak-cutting goal.
By replacing 1,600 miles of old pipes the firm has cut leakage from its 20,000-mile network by more than a third since its peak in 2004.
Thames Water’s ban will end at 0001 on Thursday.
Southern Water and Anglian Water are also expected to lift their Temporary Use Bans.
Meanwhile the other four companies, which are more heavily reliant on groundwater supplies, are expected to need to keep their restrictions in place for longer.