Drought restrictions to be lifted in Sussex

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IN a week when Sussex received a month’s rainfall in just 12 hours, Southern Water is today expected to announce that it will be lifting its hosepipe ban.

Southern, along with Anglian Water and Thames Water, are expected to make the announcement today, just two months after they imposed restrictions to combat drought in the region after two unusually dry winters.

However, within weeks of the ban being imposed last April, there was record rainfall in the south with two-and-a-half times the average for the month. That was followed by steady showers in May and June, culminating with Sunday’s record deluge which left parts of Sussex under water.

Following one of the most intense rainstorms in recent years on Sunday night, the sheer volume of rain overwhelmed parts of the sewerage system in some areas of Sussex, causing flooding in Littlehampton, Bognor, Chichester and Worthing.

The Environment Agency had imposed 42 flood warnings in the region, but this morning that was reduced to 24 in the region, including the Upper Ouse and tributaries from Slaugham to Barcombe Mills.

The three main water companies are expected to announce today that the water bans will end tomorrow (Thursday).

However, South East Water, which supplies 2.1 million customers in Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and Berkshire is expected to keep the ban. They said last week that the ban would remain until the autumn.

On its website, South East Water say: “The recent rainfall is helpful - filling our reservoirs and water butts and naturally watering plants - however the last few weeks of showers won’t restore water supplies as groundwater levels are still very low following two consecutive dry winters. We need rainfall during the winter to really replenish these underground supplies.

“We can all do our bit to use water wisely, and simple changes, no matter how small, can together add up to a significant difference.

Last month, the Environment Agency lifted the drought status in 19 areas of the UK, but restrictions remained in south-east and eastern England.

The government’s environment department Defra said much of southern and eastern England was officially in a state of drought in February, but it wasn’t until April 5 when hosepipe and sprinkler bans came into force..

Southern Water will be lifting its restrictions in Kent and Sussex at a time which has seen reservoir levels rise considerably in recent months at Ardingly reservoir, Arlington, Bewl Water and Bough Beech reservoir.

Only a month ago, despite the May rain, Southern Water said that although reservoir levels were recovering, a wet winter was still needed to recharge underground sources, since underground aquifers and boreholes remained low.

The Environment Agency has said a wetter than average winter would be needed to begin to recharge groundwater sources.