Hosepipe ban announced for millions more in England ahead of drought ruling – The Guardian

Yorkshire Water announces ban from 26 August and Thames Water could introduce measure from Friday
A hosepipe ban could be introduced as early as Friday by Britain’s largest water company, covering London and much of the south-east of England, after a drought is declared across eight areas of England on Friday.
Thames Water is “ready to go” with its hosepipe ban, according to its strategy and regulatory affairs director, Cathryn Ross, who said there was a process for introducing a ban but that it could be bypassed if an official declaration of drought is made on Friday.
“We have to wait and see what the government says and exactly what that means, possibly even later today. I don’t know, we will obviously consider that,” she told BBC Breakfast. “But, as you probably noticed, at Thames Water we’ve been asking our customers since late May to respond to the hot weather, to respond to the dry weather, and just really take steps to use water wisely.
“Obviously before we introduce the ban itself, we need to be really ready with all of our communications for people right the way across the region, so we’re really clear for everybody what they can do, what they can’t do, and if they’re having any issues how to contact us. We are ready to do that.”
Yorkshire Water has become the fifth water company in England and Wales to announce a hosepipe ban owing to the hot and dry conditions. The company, which has more than 5 million customers, said the restrictions would come into effect from 26 August.
On Friday a hosepipe ban came into force for about 1.4 million South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex.
The National Drought Group, made up of government and agency officials, water companies and other groups such as the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), is due to meet on Friday to discuss the prolonged dry weather.
There are expectations that a drought could be declared for the worst-affected areas of England, in the south and east, after the driest July on record for some areas and the driest first half of the year since 1976.
As a result, the Environment Agency and water companies would implement further plans to manage the impacts of low water levels, which can include actions such as hosepipe bans.
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On Friday afternoon, temperatures are to expected to reach as high as 35C in southern areas of the UK, which will be hotter than the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados. A four-day amber warning for extreme heat from the Met Office is in place for much of England and Wales until Sunday, with warnings of health impacts and disruption to travel.
There is also a heat health alert in place from the UK Health Security Agency, with experts advising people to look out for young children, older people and people with health conditions.
The ongoing dry conditions, combined with last month’s record-breaking heatwave, have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soil, affecting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.
Yorkshire Water’s director of water, Neil Dewis, said the prolonged heatwave conditions had left the company with little other choice than a hosepipe ban.
“Parts of Yorkshire have seen the lowest rainfall since our records began more than 130 years ago,” he said. “The hot, dry, weather means that Yorkshire’s rivers are running low and our reservoirs are around 20% lower than we would expect for this time of year. We’ve been doing everything we can to avoid putting in restrictions, but unfortunately they’re now necessary as part of our drought planning.
“We’ve been monitoring reservoir levels, weather forecasts and other environmental indicators closely to determine whether we might need to put further measures in place. As we’ve now reached that trigger point, we need to make sure that we have enough supply for the essential needs of people across the region this year and next, as well as making sure we’re able to protect our local environment by limiting the amount of water we have to draw from the rivers.”
He added: “Our decision to introduce a hosepipe ban is based on the risk that water stocks continue to fall in the coming weeks and the need to be cautious about clean water supplies and long-term river health.”
Under the restrictions, customers are banned from using a hosepipe to water gardens, clean vehicles, fill swimming pools or clean homes. They are permitted to complete those activities with tap water from a bucket or watering can, or using water that is not sourced from taps.
Businesses will be allowed to use a hosepipe only if it is directly related to a commercial purpose.
Thames Water, Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru) and Southern Water have all previously signalled that hosepipe bans will be necessary, while the Wildlife Trusts have called for an England-wide hosepipe ban to protect nature and rivers.
Dewis thanked customers for their efforts in conserving water usage. “We’re grateful to our customers, who have been saving water where they can this summer,” he said. “It is really important that we all continue to do so, to help protect our water resources and the environment.”

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