A hosepipe ban could be imminent on the south coast of England, as the hot and dry weather continues and river levels fall.
A warning from Southern Water explained that if conditions remain as they have been in and around Hampshire during the heatwave over the last week, then emergency measures will need to be put in place.
The water company warned in June that the river levels were falling and that a drought permit would be considered. During July, Hampshire has baked in temperatures of higher than 30C.
Of particular concern is the level of the River Test, which serves as a vital fresh water source for south Hampshire.
This week, Southern Water applied to the Environment Agency for a drought permit which would allow it to continue to take water from the river even if the flow continues to fall, as is forecast. If granted, the permit would also mean that Temporary Use Bans (TUBs) - previously known as hosepipe bans - will be put into place in the county.
A spokesperson for Southern Water said, “Last week, flows dropped to the point where we forecast that a drought permit may be needed to continue using the river – which is a vital source of fresh water for south Hampshire.
“Using a drought permit means that we must do everything in our power to reduce water use and so minimise the impact on the river’s precious and unique habitat.”
Drought permit has been applied for
The company explained that it has been deploying extra teams and technology to tackle leaks, which meant that in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, five million fewer litres a day was being wasted compared to February.
The use of simple things like water butts is also recommended as a way to save water, the spokesperson said.
However, they added, “If the drought permit is granted we will be asking more of our customers by imposing TUBs in certain areas. If we do have to do this, it will be carried out in a phased way in specific areas which depend on the River Test for water and we’ll provide full details in advance.
“We understand this is disruptive and inconvenient but we’ve also seen our customers feedback that protecting the environment and the River Test is a priority for them too.”
What is the weather going to be like?
In the coming days, Hampshire is still expected to dry, with temperatures of around 20C predicted in parts of the county by the Met Office.
A heavy shower is predicted for Tuesday in some parts, but apart from another light shower on Sunday (4 Jul), that is the only rain that is currently expected.