Fifteen million more people are to be hit with a hosepipe ban in London and the surrounding areas, as Thames Water has announced measures will be introduced “in coming weeks”.
These bans could come across the country, including in the north-east. Leaked Environment Agency documents seen by the Guardian show that Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent and South West Water are among companies are applying for drought permits, which would allow them to put bans in place.
People served by the water company will join those in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, who have been under restrictions since last week, and those in Sussex and Kent, who will be under a ban from this Friday.
Under the restrictions, some of which could last until October, people will be banned from using excessive tap water to water their gardens, fill swimming or paddling pools, or wash their cars.
A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Given the long-term forecast of dry weather and another forecast of very hot temperatures coming this week, we are planning to announce a temporary use ban in the coming weeks. We have written to the Environment Agency to update them on our approach, and informed Ofwat.
“The timing is not confirmed due to a number of operational and legal procedural requirements but we will be updating our customers, partners, regulators and stakeholders at the earliest time to ensure a coordinated approach. In the meantime we continue to urge our customers to only use what they need for their essential use.”
The government has been pushing water companies to put restrictions in place as the UK has faced one of its driest summers on record, particularly in the south of England.
There has been less than 10% of the usual July rainfall recorded across much of the south-east of England. Anglian, Thames and Southern regions have seen their driest July since records began in 1836, and south-east England has had no rainfall so far this month.
Drought conditions are predicted to continue into October, with many rivers in central and southern England in dire straits and not predicted to hit normal levels again unless there is above-average rain consistently through the autumn months.