Drought restrictions stay in force for Eastbourne and Bexhill

SOUTH EAST WATER has insisted today that despite heavy rainfall this week, its hosepipe ban would remain in place.

The news comes on the day when three neighbouring water companies, Southern Water, Thames Water and Anglian Water intend to lift restrictions from midnight tonight after the Environment Agency pointed out how the wet weather in recent months had significantly improved river levels and reservoir stocks, which had reduced the risk of drought and widespread water restrictions this summer.

However, South East Water, which supplies homes and businesses in Eastbourne, along a strip from Newhaven to Bexhill and far north to Sevenoaks in Kent, has stuck to its guns pointing out that while recent rainfuall has boosted river and reservoir levels, it has had little impact on the region’s groundwater sources, many of which remain at severe levels.

“As these provide 75 per cent of all customers’ water supplies, South East Water is not in a position to remove water restrictions and instead continues to carefully follow its Drought Plan to ensure it is prepared for the risk of a third dry winter,” the company said in a statement today.

South East Water did not rule out water restrictions being lifted this summer. It said it would not normally expect to see the vital underground reserves re-fill properly until the autumn, but if the current wet weather continues anything was possible. They promised to monitor water levels closely and keep the restrictions under review.

Paul Seeley, Asset Director at South East Water, said: “All water companies must stick to their drought management plans which are agreed with our regulators. Just as those companies who are now in a position to withdraw their restrictions will be following theirs, so must we comply with ours and retain them.

“We hope our customers understand why we are taking the action we are – these depleted reserves still need to see us through the summer, if it ever arrives, while we must also plan for the possibility of a third dry winter.”

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for the extraordinary efforts they have made so far, while reassuring them that we are prudently managing the water resources we do have and as soon as we are confident the groundwater sources have recovered we will remove the restrictions.”

It was on April 5 when seven water companies imposed water restrictions across southern and eastern England after two unusually dry winters. However, record rainfall fell across England in May, with more to follow in May and June. Last Sunday, a month’s worth of rain fell in 12 hours across Sussex, causing widespread flooding and disruption.