Southern Water seeks extension to drought permit

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SOUTHERN Water has applied to the Environment Agency for an extension to a drought permit, which is helping refill the South’s largest reservoir.

The weather has remained exceptionally dry and Bewl Water, on the Sussex/Kent border at Lamberhurst, has not been topped up by rainfall as the company would have liked.

The permit, which relaxed the conditions under which the company is allowed to take water from the River Medway to refill Bewl, was granted on February 28 and is currently in place until March 31.

Southern Water is asking for the permit to be extended for one more month, until April 30.

The extension application, made in the same week the company announced there would be water restrictions in Sussex and Kent from April 5, would allow the company to continue pumping water into Bewl so the reservoir can refill as much as possible ready for the summer.

Since the permit was granted, nearly 2,000 million litres of water have been pumped into Bewl and it is currently 47 per cent full. However, at this time of year it would normally be at 90 per cent of its capacity of 31,000 million litres.

Keeping the emergency powers in place for one more month could allow up to 4,650 million litres of water to be put into the reservoir, which supplies the Medway towns, Thanet and Hastings areas.

Meyrick Gough, Southern Water’s Water Planning and Strategy Manager, said: “If we continue pumping into Bewl until the end of April it will make a real difference to the reservoir level, particularly if we see some rain over the next few weeks.”