Hosepipe ban comes into force amid hot and dry conditions
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Water usage limits currently prevent millions of people in England from excessively using local network supplies. Firms have provided billions of additional litres of water this year as they respond to record-breaking heat and months without even average rainfall. The active temporary use bans (TUBs) are open-ended and rely on significant changes to the UK’s weather fortunes.
Is there still a hosepipe ban after it rains?
Excessive rainfall has replaced searing heat and prolonged dryness in several parts of the UK, as thunderstorms hailed the country’s exit from its latest heatwave on August 15.
Rainfall in some areas met and exceeded 50mm (two inches) within three hours, causing floods as water failed to penetrate the baked earth.
While the storms will start to fill depleted reservoirs across the country, firms have warned they won’t produce enough to end active hosepipe bans.
Meteorologists believe the latest rainfall is not consistent enough to replenish water supplies.
Environment Agency and Met Office officials have said the country needs weeks of consistent rain, not the sporadic torrential downpours making up the latest trend.
Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon told Metro.co.uk the country needs “significant and long-lasting rain”.
Thames Water’s plans to introduce restrictions of its own show that recent forecasts haven’t proven enough to ease fears for the UK’s water supplies.
The firm announced today that it would require its 15 million customers to follow a hosepipe ban from August 24.
Officials cited the “driest July since 1885” and “no prospect of significant rain” in their reasoning.
Rainfall has not helped the company recover, and its previous conservation efforts have done little to alleviate the issue.
Thames Water said groundwater levels have fallen to once-in-a-generation lows.
The firm said: “Groundwater levels are currently below normal throughout the region and declining towards levels that would be only be expected once a decade.
“Reservoir storage levels in London and Farmoor, in Oxfordshire, have reduced significantly and are now at levels not seen for around 30 years.”
The coming TUB will ask domestic customers not to use hosepipes for “cleaning cars, watering gardens or allotments, filling paddling pools and swimming pools and cleaning windows”.
Experts have predicted that water companies may have to wait until October before they allow customers to use hosepipes again.
The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) has predicted drought conditions could persist for the next two months.
The organisation predicted rivers would remain “exceptionally low” until mid-autumn, especially in South East England.
UKCEH hydrologist Catherine Sefton said the temperature outlook for August to October shows “an increased likelihood of warmer than normal conditions”.
She added: “The precipitation outlook for the same periods suggest that while average rainfall is forecasted, it is likely there will be a contrast between a wetter North West and a drier South East of the country.”
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