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Home » Kent And Sussex Hosepipe Ban Announced Amid Water Shortage

Kent And Sussex Hosepipe Ban Announced Amid Water Shortage

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, South East Water said demand for drinking water in Kent and Sussex has reached record levels in June

By Christian Fuller

BBC News

A hosepipe and sprinkler ban has been imposed on people in Kent and Sussex.

South East Water said it had no choice after demand for drinking water had reached “record levels” in June, similar to last year’s drought.

Up to 4,000 customers are without water or have been experiencing low pressure since Monday due to supply issues.

The water company had urged people to only use water for essential purposes, but has now issued an immediate ban on hosepipes and sprinklers.

The measures mean that using the equipment to water gardens, clean cars and fill swimming pools will not be allowed.

It is understood that the Temporary Usage Ban can only be enforced after ten days of consultation, meaning after 26 June rule-breakers could be hit with a £1,000 fine.

Areas including Wadhurst, Mayfield, Biddenden and Staplehurst have been affected by water outages.

Bottle stations have been set up across the two counties, and the supply issues are expected to continue until Sunday.

Douglas Whitfield, South East Water’s director of operations told BBC Radio Kent the hot weather had caused demand to outstrip supply.

“We are pumping as much water as we can into the system, but water is being used before it gets to those customers who are currently on the end of our system,” he said.

Image source, South East Water

Image caption, Bottled water stations had been opened in Mayfield, Rotherfield, Wadhurst and Ashford

South East Water said its facilities are working at full output, with every water treatment work and water source available producing treated water to keep up with demand.

Despite this, the company said it was unable to return drinking water storage tanks to “satisfactory levels”.

The firm said the demand for water has broken all previous records, including during the Covid lockdown heatwave periods.

It said it had produced an additional 120 million litres of water a day – equivalent to supplying four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne.

The company serves 2.3 million people across Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

Image source, South East Water

Image caption, A burst pipe in Tunbridge Wells was repaired on Thursday

David Hinton, South East Water’s chief executive, said: “This situation has developed much more rapidly than last year.”

Wealden District Council councillor Michael Lunn said he had spoken to 20 farmers affected by the drop in supply, including one with 40 cattle and heifers about to give birth, who was “hysterical”.

“It’s really serious,” he said, adding: “As far as I’m concerned, they [South East Water] are just so, so slow in responding to this crisis.

“We were aware this was going to happen. We are not shocked or surprised, we are disappointed and we are really angry.”

The supply issues had forced several schools to close, and Rotherfield Primary School in Crowborough remains shut.

Bottled water stations have been opened at Mayfield Memorial Hall, Rotherfield Village Hall, Sparrows Green Recreation Ground in Wadhurst and Headcorn Aerodrome in Ashford.

The shortages have provoked criticism from customers and local MPs directed towards the water company.

The situation was described as “completely unacceptable” by Greg Clark, the Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells.

Image source, South East Water

Image caption, The water level of Arlington reservoir, near Hailsham in East Sussex, was low in summer 2022

Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said the remainder of this week will be hotter than average for the time of year across the UK.

In East Sussex, temperatures could reach 29C on Friday, while parts of Kent could reach a maximum temperature of 27C on Saturday.

In the next two weeks, however, heavy rain may affect parts of the South East, according to the Met Office.

South East Water experienced supply issues in December 2022 after pipes burst due to snow and ice thawing rapidly overnight, leaving thousands of households across Kent and Sussex without water before Christmas.

A government minister told the provider earlier this year that it “must act urgently” to significantly improve its performance.

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