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Millions of Brits could face £1,000 fines as water companies impose hosepipe ban
30 July 2022, 11:03 | Updated: 30 July 2022, 12:34
More than 17 million Brits are being warned they face a hosepipe ban and could even be slapped with £1,000 fines for flouting rules as water firms crack down on usage.
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Almost a million households across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be subject to a hosepipe ban by Southern Water - who was the first to impose the ban.
The water company said the crackdown, which will come into effect on Friday, is required after dangerously low river levels.
It follows severely below average rainfall over the last eight months, in what has so far been one of the driest years on record, and a huge spike in demand during the recent heatwave, where temperatures topped 40C and wildfires broke out across the south.
Southern Water warned that people could be hit with a hefty fine if found to be using hosepipes to water gardens, wash cars or fill ponds and swimming pools.
Thames Water, South East Water and Walsh Water have also warned they may follow suit as they urged their combined 17 million customers to cut back.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Southern Water’s announcement of a temporary-use ban for its customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is one of many measures they and other water companies should consider to reduce unnecessary use of water and protect customer supplies and the environment.”
Some 935,000 people living in about 500,000 properties will be affected by Southern Water's temporary use ban, which is the first in the region since 2012.
Alison Hoyle, director of risk and compliance at Southern Water, said river flows are down 25% as a result of one of the driest years on record but stressed there is "no direct risk to customer water supply".
She added that, as well as the reduced supply, the hot weather has led to an increased demand for water.
Dr Hoyle said: "We haven't taken this decision lightly and we know the temporary use ban will have an impact on our customers.
"We're working with the Environment Agency to ensure that we act responsibly to protect our environment.
"We're asking everyone in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to do their bit by supporting these measures and only use the water that they need.
"We're experiencing one of the driest years on record for over a century and we've seen record temperatures.
"River flows are approximately 25% lower than they should be for July, which is equivalent to losing more than 25 million bathtubs of water.
"We're asking our customers to help protect our rivers and the habitats that live there by cutting back their water use.
"We believe a temporary use ban is a responsible and vital step to reducing the amount of water being taken from the Rivers Test and Itchen."
This month so far has been England's driest July since 1911, the Met Office announced earlier this week.
The latest data reveals there has only been 0.6in (15.8mm) of rain averaged across England, just 24% of the amount that would be expected in an average July.