Will a hosepipe ban hit West Sussex? Ardingly Reservoir half empty after driest July since 1911

Weeks of hot and dry weather across Mid and West Sussex has sparked concerns about a potential hosepipe ban this summer.

South East Water said the company is now ‘assessing the likelihood of restrictions’ because the dry period is forecast to continue for ‘a number of weeks’.

England, Scotland and Wales experienced record temperatures on July 18 and 19 with very little rain over the past month.

Lee Dance, South East Water’s head of Water Resources, said: “Official figures show this is the driest July on record since 1911 and the period between November 2021 and July 2022 has been the driest eight-month stint since 1975/76.

Ardingly Reservoir on Friday, July 29

“All year round we monitor the availability of water and the likely demand, taking account of the weather and other factors.

“We have been looking very closely at the current situation and assessing the likelihood of restrictions and other measures.”

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He added: “We have already significantly increased communications across our region to assist in keeping demand within manageable levels.

Ardingly Reservoir on Friday, July 29

“This has included asking customers to voluntarily stop using sprinklers and hosepipes.

“If our assessment reveals voluntary reduction of water use will not allow us to maintain supplies of water for essential use or to protect the environment then we may need to impose more formal bans.”

Photographs of Ardingly Reservoir on Friday, July 29, showed that water levels are visibly lower than normal.

South East Water has revealed that the reservoir is only 52.1 per cent full at the moment.

Ardingly Reservoir on Friday, July 29

The company added that the reservoir was 94.9 per cent full at this time last year.

A spokesperson said: “During the recent hot, dry weather we have seen a vast increase in our customers’ demand for water and are producing up to 120 million litres of additional drinking water each day.

“We are asking our customers in Kent and Sussex to use water for essential use only, to ensure we’re able to treat, pump and supply enough water for everybody.”

South East Water also said that Ardingly Reservoir can hold 4,773 million litres of water, the equivalent of about 1,880 Olympic-sized swimming pools, when it is full.

Last week Southern Water announced a rare Temporary Use Ban on hosepipes in Hampshire to reduce the demand on the River Test and River Itchen.

This is set to come into effect on August 5 with no end date announced yet.

But a Southern Water spokesperson told this newspaper: “Although we have a temporary use ban coming into force in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on 5 August, there are no current plans to extend this to any of our customers elsewhere in the region.”

Last week the Met Office said it is unlikely that there will be another upcoming heatwave like the one that hit the UK on July 18 and 19, which saw 40°C temperatures in some areas.

But Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan told NationalWorld that conditions are still ‘exceptionally dry’ in the East and South East of the UK, which is unlikely to change over the coming week.

The Met Office added that ‘extreme heat events’ are likely to become more frequent in the future because of climate change.