Environment Secretary urges water firms to act over fears of extended drought

The Environment Secretary has urged water firms to act to mitigate the effects of a prolonged drought after several companies announced hosepipe bans.

George Eustice said it was right that a number of water firms had already implemented measures to preserve water supplies during this “exceptionally dry period”.

Southern Water has implemented a hosepipe ban covering Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The temporary ban came into effect on Friday 5 August.

South East Water has also announced a hosepipe and sprinkler ban for Kent and Sussex that will come into force from Friday 12 August until further notice.

The company said it had been “left with no choice” but to restrict usage after the south east had 8 percent of average rainfall for July.

“In accordance with their drought plans, water companies across the country have rightly taken action to mitigate the effects of this prolonged dry weather using the range of tools available to them. I strongly urge others to do the same,” Mr. Eustice wrote in The Telegraph.

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The Environment Secretary added that we can all do our part to use water wisely at home and in the garden.

However he said the issue should never solely be about individual consumer action.

“The onus must be on water companies to do more to reduce leakage, building on progress made in recent years. We must eliminate water leakage across the entire network if we want to secure our water supply for the future,” Mr. Eustice wrote.

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph Mr Eustice wanted water supply companies to “take whatever action is necessary”.

“One key element of that will be the temporary use of hosepipe bans,” the source added.

If more firms act on the minister’s instructions, millions of households could be banned from using hosepipes to clean their vehicles, water their gardens and fill swimming and paddling pools.

Anyone found to contravene the ban could face a fine of up to £1,000.

The crackdown on water usage comes as the UK is facing another heatwave with temperatures forecast to rise to the mid-30s by the end of next week.

On Sunday, Britain will see temperatures of up to 28C.

Met Office senior meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said: “For the next seven to 10 days it looks like it will be dry for much of the country.”

Mr Dewhurst added: “Overall Augusts tend to be a wetter month so it is fairly unusual to have prolonged dry weather over August.”

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