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Hosepipe ban to be imposed in Kent and Sussex as demand for water reaches record level for June
16 June 2023, 10:17 | Updated: 16 June 2023, 12:04
Millions of people in the south east will be hit by a hosepipe ban later this month by South East Water as firms struggle to keep up with demand due to the recent UK heatwave.
South East Water has said it will impose a hot weather ban on watering gardens, washing cars, patios and boats and from filling swimming pools and paddling pools from June 26. The country has seen the threshold for a heatwave being broken in recent days.
South East water said today: “The south east has experienced a prolonged period of dry weather. This, couple with the high temperatures experienced in recent weeks has seen customer demand for treated water reach record levels.
“This has begun to impact customers… who have experienced low pressure or no water, as stocks of drinking water have reduced to very low levels in our local clean water storage tanks.
“The demand for water has broken all previous records, including during the Covid lockdown heatwave periods.”
The water firm said it would have to limit water use, as the forecast for the summer is for a dry period with little rain.
“Climate change and other factors are increasing the frequency of these events,” the company said.
Four schools in East Sussex were forced to close because of water shortages in the area. Three primaries and one secondary school were forced to shut earlier in the week. The schools were shut due to an ongoing lack of water supply.
“Teachers arrived in the morning to find there was no running water. There was no information about this on the South East Water website,” the council said.
Kent - also served by South East Water - is also experiencing shortages.
The acute water shortages come as Met Office data shows there was significantly above average rainfall in east Sussex and Kent in April.
Water firms have faced criticism for failing to properly invest in infrastructure.
David Hinton, Chief Executive Officer, South East Water, said: “This situation has developed much more rapidly than last year. Understandably, we’ve seen customer demand increase in line with the hotter weather, however this has impacted our ability to keep all customers in supply at all times.
"Despite asking for customers help to use water for essential uses only, regrettably we’ve now been left with no choice but to introduce this temporary use ban restriction to protect customers supplies across Kent and Sussex.
“The long-term forecast for the rest of the summer is for a dry period with little rainfall, although temperatures may reduce slightly.
"Restricting the use of hosepipes and sprinklers to make sure we have enough water for our customers’ essential use, will ensure we can serve our vulnerable customers and to protect the local environment.
"The temporary restrictions, will be enforced from 26 June. This will mean that customers will be prevented from using hosepipes for watering their gardens, washing cars, patios and boats and from filling swimming and paddling pools.
"We are very aware that climate change and other factors are increasing the frequency of these events and we are submitting proposals to our regulator, Ofwat to solve these issues.
“I would like to thank everyone who has already taken steps to try and reduce their overall water use but despite this, demand still remains very high which is why we have taken this decision to bring in temporary use restrictions.”
The hot weather is forecast to remain across the UK into next week as an NHS boss warned the health service was seeing near record levels of demand at A&E departments.
The Met Office has forecast temperatures in the high 20s, with some areas reaching into the 30s.
It comes as an NHS medical director said the heat had contributed to one of the "busiest days ever" in A&E departments across the country on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Met Office extended its yellow heat warning until June 19, while several schools in East Sussex closed on Thursday due to water shortages.
Dan Stroud, spokesman for the Met Office, said conditions would become "increasingly humid and uncomfortable" over the weekend, especially in inner cities, with temperatures unlikely to drop below the 20s overnight.
NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis added: "We know the warm weather has increased demand on services and this week we have seen one of our busiest days ever at A&E departments.
"As we move into what's forecasted to be a very warm weekend, the heat and the impact of industrial action will continue across the country.
"NHS staff are working hard and prioritising urgent and emergency care, so as ever, use 999 in emergency and life-threatening situations and NHS 111 online for other health concerns."
A UK Health Security Agency spokeswoman warned that the sustained heat could impact the health and social care sector.
She said: "If current forecasted temperatures are reached it is likely that there could be some impacts across the health and social care sector.
"A yellow alert means that any impacts include the increased use of health care services by vulnerable populations and an increase in risk to health for individuals over the age of 65 or those with pre-existing health conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
"If you have friends, family or neighbours who you know are more vulnerable to the effects of hot weather, it is important you check in on them and ensure they are aware of the forecasts and are following the necessary advice."