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  • by Karma Loveday

South East Water issues hosepipe ban as taps run dry

South East Water said it had “no choice” but to issue a hosepipe ban for its customers in Kent and Sussex, as it battled to meet record demand last week (see chart).

The company said demand over the recent hot weeks in the areas had exceeded previous records. Despite its facilities working at full capacity and producing an additional 120 million litres of water a day, taps had run dry for some customers, while others had very low pressure. Those affected, some for almost a week, include a school which has had to close and a care home, as well as household customers. Bottled water is being distributed and bowsers deployed for some.

South East has asked customers to stop using hosepipes for the likes of garden watering, car washing and pool filling immediately, though the ban will only be enforceable from 26 June after the statutory ten day consultation period.

Chief executive David Hinton said: “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 company has faced mounting criticism as the days of outage have clocked up, including for not communicating with all affected customers adequately and because, unlike in the 2022 heatwave, temperatures have not been unprecedented.

Hinton added: “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.”

Many other water companies have called on their customers to use water efficiently amid demand spikes during the hot weather.


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