United Utilities faces questions on drought applications after cancelling hosepipe ban

United Utilities' intentions for its drought applications are being questioned in light of its unanticipated cancellation of its hosepipe ban planned to start yesterday (5 August). The company cited cooler temperatures, recent rainfall, operational actions and customers’ water saving as reasons for its change of heart.

While customers will be relieved not to face restrictions, and the decision may ease some of the pressure on the company over leakage, freshwater policy lead at WWF, Dani Jordan (pictured), posted on Twitter: “If there is no need for a hosepipe ban, I'm hoping that @unitedutilities will be withdrawing their recent drought applications to take more water from Lake Ullswater, Lake Windermere and Ennerdale Water” Jordan questioned whether the Environment Agency might reopen the process for objections to the applications in light of “substantial change in approach by UU”.

In The Times last week, the Angling Trust condemned the decision to cancel the ban: “The health of our rivers is more important than keeping our lawns and golf courses unnaturally green in a heatwave. Grass is very resilient and will grow back,” said a spokesman.

United Utilities’ water services director, Dr Martin Padley, reported: “Our leakage teams are working 24 hours a day to find and repair as many leaks as possible and we have been moving water around our network. We have also been making operational interventions such as installation of new pumping stations, pumping between reservoirs, bringing ground water sources into use and prioritising maintenance to help ensure supplies have not been interrupted during the prolonged hot spell.

“Given the improved position, helped by recent rainfall, we do not want to inconvenience customers unnecessarily at this time. However, the long-range forecast from the Met Office is one of relatively dry weather into the autumn, so future restrictions are still a possibility if more rain doesn’t arrive.”

Padley also thanked customers for their efforts and asked them to continue to use water wisely.