Thames Water to introduce hosepipe and sprinkler ban from 3 April
Thames Water is to introduce a hosepipe and sprinkler ban across its water supply area from Monday 3 April.
The restrictions, which are the first in the region for 15 years, will prevent the use of hosepipes and sprinklers in the garden or in the washing of cars.
The move follows a drought which began in November 2004 and has so far seen 15 months of below-average rainfall across the area. Last year was the third driest since records began in 1897 - drier even than the drought year of 1976.
Jeremy Pelczer, Chief Executive of Thames Water, said: "We are reluctant to restrict the amount of water our customers use, but the situation is serious.
"The drought across the South-East has now gone on for so long that we have to be prudent and introduce measures that will make best use of limited supplies and help protect the environment. We have not needed restrictions in our region for 15 years, so this is not a decision we have taken lightly.
"By taking this step now, we will lessen the likelihood of more stringent restrictions later - but much still depends on how much rainfall we receive in the coming weeks.
"If we see little rain, coupled with high demand, then we may have to go further and restrict a wider range of non-essential uses of water.
"We have now had two dry winters in a row. Winter is a vital time, when substantial rainfall normally soaks down through the soil to top up the underground water sources that feed rivers and boreholes. This doesn't happen in the spring and summer, because a lot of the water is taken up by evaporation and plant growth.
"This is an unusual and difficult situation and we are asking our customers to help us conserve supplies, by using water carefully.
"We are doing everything we can to increase supplies and save water ourselves. We remain absolutely committed to reducing leakage as rapidly as possible, and are spending more than £500,000 per day on this essential task.
"That includes fixing an average of 200 leaks a day. In addition, we have more than 1,000 people replacing our oldest and leakiest mains in 20 different locations across London, where a third of the pipes are more than 150 years old.
"We have already renewed 250 miles of pipework, which is starting to make real leakage savings.
"In addition, we are planning joint advertising campaigns with other water companies and with the GLA. These will stress that water is an increasingly precious resource, not just in the current drought, but in the longer term, with growing evidence of climate change and many more people moving into our region.
"We would also like to encourage our customers to do what they can to help conserve supplies, by thinking carefully about how they use water.
"It's not just in the garden that people can help make a difference. There are lots of things they can do in and around the home, without making big changes to their lifestyle."
The Environment Agency welcomed the announcement, after recently calling on water companies to act quickly to minimise the threat to water supplies and the environment.
David Willis, Environment Manager, for the Environment Agency's Thames Region, said: "Given the current status of our water resources, water companies must take action to reduce risks to water supply and the environment. Thames Water are acting responsibly by introducing a hosepipe ban at this time."
Water-saving tips include:
· Install a water-saving device to fit in your toilet cistern, saving up to three litres per flush. These can be obtained free from Thames Water on 0845 9200 800.
· Take a quick shower instead of a bath - but beware, as power showers can use more than a bath.
· Ensure, before using it, that you have a full load in your washing machine or dishwasher.
· Don't leave the tap running while brushing your teeth or washing vegetables, as this can waste up to six litres per minute.
· Fix dripping taps - making a saving of up to 140 litres per week.
Web site -Thames Water