ROMSEY could be hit with a hosepipe ban, Southern Water has announced.

Bosses at the utility firm say they are preparing to apply to the Environment Agency for a drought permit by August 26, which could impact 160,000 households.

This means Temporary Use Bans (TUBs) may be imposed from "late September" if the permit is given the green light.

It comes over fears of dropping water levels in the River Test.

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The permit will allow Southern Water to continue using the river, which the company has described as a “vital source of fresh water for south Hampshire”, if flows continue to drop.

Water resources policy manager at Southern Water, Nigel Hepworth, said: "We are looking to apply to the Environment Agency by August 26 for a drought permit, because the River Test flow is falling.

"If we are granted the drought permit, we can continue to extract water from the river in a controlled way and we will be asking our customers to use water as carefully as possible, so they are voluntarily trying to reduce their water use.

"However, if we do not get the drought permit, which is very unlikely, the worst case scenario would be having to impose water use restrictions, which could affect 160,000 households in the south of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight."

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Romsey Advertiser: Nigel HepworthNigel Hepworth

Mr Hepworth stressed Southern Water did apply for a drought permit last year, which was granted by the Environment Agency and could have been used on "September 20".

However, the water company did not use the permit in the end after bosses discovered "substantial rainfall" was forecasted for the next few days.

He added the firm had been rolling out new technology in the last 18 months to tackle leaks across the county, which has meant they are saving "8 million litres" of water a day.

This announcement comes as the mercury hit 35 degrees on Tuesday, which was recorded at the Mottisfont weather station.

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The highest temperature recorded at the weather station was 37.5 degrees in August 2003.

The Environment Agency has been contacted for a comment.