4:00pm Sunday 18th March 2012
By Simon Moss
A HOSEPIPE ban will be introduced across the Basingstoke area from next month – just weeks after the region was declared a drought area.
Seven water firms in the south and south east have said they will impose water restrictions after two dry winters left rivers, reservoirs and aquifers well below normal levels.
South East Water, which supplies the majority of the borough, has said it will enforce restrictions by April 5 along with Southern Water and Thames Water.
It is hoped the measures, which will ban customers from using hosepipes to wash cars and water gardens, will ensure there is enough water for essentials like washing, cooking and drinking.
But Paul Butler, managing director of South East Water, warned further measures could be imposed if the situation does not “significantly improve”.
He said: “The restrictions are a regrettable, but necessary, step to protect supplies for the coming months for essential use of water by our customers.
“We may have to remove any initial concessions and introduce wider restrictions, to protect both customers’ water supplies and the environment from which we take that water.”
Martin Baggs, chief executive of Thames Water, said: “Groundwater levels in the aquifers, which we rely on for both borehole and river supplies, are well below where we would normally expect them to be. In some cases, they are at their lowest levels recorded at this time of year.”
Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East will also enforce restrictions.
In February, it was announced the South East was in drought.
On Monday, the Environment Agency published its Drought Prospects report which calls on businesses and homeowners to think more carefully about their water consumption.
Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Environ-ment Agency, said: “Our report urges water companies, farmers and other businesses to look again at ways to improve short-term water storage, share water resources where possible and reduce the amount they use.”
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman added: “We can all help reduce the effects of drought by being smarter about how we use water. Taking action now will help us all in the future.”
The proposed restrictions have now gone out to public consultation.
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