Last hosepipe bans lifted after exceptional aquifer recharge

Hosepipe bans have been lifted by all four companies that had them in place in southeast England.

Sutton and East Surrey Water, South East Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast had kept restrictions in place after three other companies lifted them last month, as they were more heavily dependent on slow-to-replenish groundwater resources.

However, exceptionally rainy weather since the ban was introduced on 5 April has now recharged aquifers enough for companies to lift the ban.

Sutton and East Surrey Water reported the last three months had been the wettest ever in its supply area.

Operations director Mike Hegarty said: “We are delighted to be able to lift the restrictions and return to a normal service for customers.”

Paul Seeley, asset director at South East Water, said: “The increase in our underground resources brought about by the abnormally heavy spring rainfall is most welcome. Normally, only winter rainfall recharges the aquifers and so this recharge is unusual, and has seen some of the highest increases in water levels ever recorded in our area at this time of year.”

While the companies expressed confidence they had sufficient resources to last the summer, they stressed a that having experienced two dry winters, a third could lead to further restrictions next year.

Mike Pocock, water resources manager at Veolia Water, said: “Although the exceptional levels of recent rainfall have resulted in an unusually high top up of groundwater for this time of year, the critical period for recharging our aquifers is between October and March, when less rainfall is lost to plant growth, evaporation and run off to rivers.

“It must be stressed that groundwater levels still remain lower than normal, so we are asking our customers to continue to use water wisely.”

The companies thanked customers for cutting down on water use since the ban was introduced. Veolia Water estimated demand had reduced by 7 per cent.