Heavy rain has reduced the need for the implementation of new drought orders but has not decreased the risk of more drastic action later in the summer.
DEFRA last week gave Mid Kent Water and Southern Water permission to introduce drought orders. Both companies decided not to use them yet, but warned non-essential use restrictions will be imposed on public and private water users if the situation deteriorates.
Rainfall has been closer to average in the past two months but environment minister Ian Pearson, who granted the orders, warned there was still a need for water restrictions.
He said: “The rainfall we are seeing now and over the rest of the summer will have little impact on groundwater levels. Taking action now is the responsible thing to do.”
Southern Water chief executive Les Dawson said despite the rain the situation remained serious and the restrictions, which cover its supply areas in Kent and Sussex, could be introduced this year.
Sutton & East Surrey Water’s drought order, granted last month, came into effect at the weekend. Its 650,000 customers are unable to water public and private lawns, parks, sports grounds and gardens.
Thames Water has been slammed by the Environment Agency for not applying for a drought order.
Turfgrass Growers Association chief executive Tim Mudge has criticised the decision to deny turf growers a 28-day exemption from Sutton & East Surrey Water’s drought order. He had hoped water companies would allow growers to water newly laid turf because of its benefit to the environment.
Mudge said: “We’ll continue to lobby water companies that are proposing drought orders or hosepipe bans and make sure that they are aware of our objections.”
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