Heavy rain finally delivers lifting of ban

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All remaining hosepipe bans in force across Kent were this morning lifted after the summer downpours topped up water reserves to a sustainable level.

South East Water and Veolia joined the other companies serving the county which lifted their bans last month in removing all restrictions on domestic water use.

South East Water said it is heavily dependent on groundwater supplies which provide 75 per cent of its water. These were at record low levels following the two-year drought but rainfall since April means the underground aquifers are now recovering.

Paul Seeley, South East Water’s asset director, said: “We are pleased to be able to lift the restrictions and return to a normal service for customers. We would like to thank them for their support while they have been in place; their efforts have helped to keep demand for water well below levels normally experienced at this time of year.”

Although the record rainfall has taken time to soak deep down into the aquifers most are now indicating promising levels of recharge.

A spokesman added: “For example, in South East Water’s supply area, record breaking low groundwater levels were recorded back in March at one of our many measurement points at Duckpit Farm, near Canterbury, and showing no signs of recovery. However, since then the region has experienced an exceptional amount of intense and prolonged rainfall, which has subsequently boosted groundwater levels at Duckpit Farm by 4.95m (approximately 15ft) between April and June.”

It was low water levels in the aquifers, along with reservoirs and rivers, which triggered the use of South East Water’s drought plan, which is agreed with the Environment Agency, and led to the introduction of the temporary use ban by seven water companies on April 5. Thames Water and Southern Water lifted their restrictions on June 14.

Paul Seeley said: “The increase in our underground resources brought about by the abnormally heavy spring rainfall is most welcome. Normally, only winter rainfall recharges the aquifers and so this recharge is unusual, and has seen some of the highest increases in water levels ever recorded in our area at this time of year.

“We are now confident that our water resources have returned to a position that means our customers’ essential needs are secure. However, the levels are still lower than we would like them to be so we are planning for a possible third dry winter and we will continue to seek our customers support to use water wisely.”

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