West Sussex County Council to hold crisis talks on water shortage

A ‘DROUGHT summit’ is to be hosted by West Sussex County Council this week.

Its aim will be to explore what role the local authority can play during the hosepipe ban announced for most of the county from April 5.

Deputy council leader Cllr Lionel Barnard will meet with representatives of Southern Water and South East Water on March 30.

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Also invited are the Environment Agency and Portsmouth Water, which is not introducing a hosepipe ban but has called on its customers to show ‘voluntary restraint’ in their water usage in the coming months.

Cllr Barnard said: “Obviously as a council we will be leading by example and doing all we can to reduce our own water consumption.

“We already have several initiatives underway and the fact that we are reducing the number of buildings we operate from will mean using less water and reduce our carbon footprint generally.

“The meeting will be an opportunity to find out what we can do as a local authority to advise residents and businesses on what steps they can take to reduce water use now, and what steps can be taken if the situation does deteriorate.

“We serve a population of 800,000 people and have a business community ranging from companies on industrial estates to many farmers and growers, so there will obviously be a great deal of concern.

“It will also be a chance to explore with the water companies what can be done in the long term once the current water shortage is over.”

The county council has also updated its website to include the latest information about the drought with advice on how to save water. This can be seen at www.westsussex.gov.uk by finding drought on the A-Z index.

Cllr Pete Bradbury, cabinet member for public protection, is leading a review of the type of action the county council might take if there are any further emergency measures.