Water conservation becoming more pressing as England suffers driest July since 1935
South East Water have announced prohibitions for Kent and Sussex coming into effect from Friday 12 August and running until further notice in response to an arid summer that saw southeastern England experience just 8 per cent of its expected rainfall for the month.
It means that residents of those counties will no longer be allowed to use hosepipes or sprinklers to water their gardens or allotments, clean their cars or fill up swimming or paddling pools and risk a maximum fine of £1,000 if they do so.
So far, those four regions are the only parts of the UK to be hit by the restrictions, with the north of England, the Midlands, East Anglia, London, Wales and Scotland all unaffected.
That said, the National Infrastructure Committee’s chairman Sir John Armitt has called on the government to introduce a national hosepipe ban and mandatory water metering to tackle the looming threat of drought.
Sir John called for £20m in new investment, telling The Observer: “You have to pay for [water], one way or another,” he said.
“That could be investing in new reservoirs or moving water around the country, as well as stopping leaks.”
His calls were echoed by Mark Lloyd from the Rivers Trust who said: “There needs to be a nationally coordinated publicity campaign to reduce water use, and universal water metering.
“Low flows in rivers are disastrous for wildlife and, ultimately, we need to take much more care of this incredibly precious resource.”
Government ministers reportedly met with water industry officials and farming groups on Tuesday to discuss how best to respond to drought conditions across Britain.
The UK experienced an average of just 37.7mm of rainfall in July, making it the eighth driest in records stretching back to 1836.
The Met Office said figures showed that England has had its driest eight-month period since the notoriously drought-afflicted summer of 1976 between November 2021 and June 2022.
Over that period, just 421mm of rain fell across England – less than 74 per cent of the 1991-2020 average of 568mm.
This year has also seen record temperatures reached, with 38.1C felt in Santon Downham in Suffolk on 18 July and a record-breaking 40.3C in Coningsby in Lincolnshire on 19 July, prompting chaos across the country and calls for more dramatic action to be taken to address the growing climate emergency.
Southeastern England chalked up 24 days of zero average rainfall between 1 June and 24 July this year, Met Office figures show.