16 June 2023

Hosepipe ban set for Kent and Sussex due to ‘record demand’ for water

16 June 2023

A hosepipe ban is set to come in across Kent and Sussex due to a record demand for drinking water, South East Water bosses said.

Areas of the region have been left with little or no water this week amid the hot weather, forcing schools to shut and residents to get drinking water from bottled water stations.

A plea to use only essential water has stretched from Haywards Heath in West Sussex to Whitstable in Kent.

The temporary ban on hosepipes and sprinklers will come in on June 26.

South East Water said despite providing an extra 120 million litres of water a day, demand in June has broken records, including from the Covid lockdown heatwave.

David Hinton, the firm’s chief executive, said: “This situation has developed much more rapidly than last year. Understandably, we’ve seen customer demand increase in line with the hotter weather, however this has impacted our ability to keep all customers in supply at all times.

“Despite asking for customers’ help to use water for essential uses only, regrettably we’ve now been left with no choice but to introduce this temporary use ban restriction to protect customers’ supplies across Kent and Sussex.”

Mr Hinton said the long-term forecast for the summer is a dry period with little rainfall, adding: “Restricting the use of hosepipes and sprinklers to make sure we have enough water for our customers’ essential use will ensure we can serve our vulnerable customers and to protect the local environment.”

On Friday, three schools in East Sussex partially closed due to water shortages. Mark Cross Church of England Primary School in Crowborough said it could not open to all year groups because of reduced sanitary facilities and no running water.

Areas experiencing no or low water pressure during the week include Crowborough, Wadhurst, Mayfield, Lewes, Newhaven in East Sussex, and Biddenden, Staplehurst, Cranbrook and Ashford in Kent.

Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani has been calling on South East Water to introduce a hosepipe ban since earlier this week, blasting the company for “appalling” outages across her East Sussex constituency.

“Today is day six of misery and we’re still counting. It’s always too hot or too cold for @sewateruk to cope with demand in Wealden. We have been here before and lessons are never learnt,” she tweeted on Friday before the hosepipe ban was announced.

Southern Water which supplies areas of Kent also issued a warning on Thursday that demand for water in the county was “outstripping supply” as the spell of hot and dry weather continues.

On Friday the firm said customers in Fairlight and Hastings were experiencing low or no water pressure and it had set up a bottled water station.

The provider said demand is 15% higher than expected for this time of year, and that this week has been the highest levels of use by Kent homes and businesses since last summer’s heatwave.

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