Hosepipe ban for London confirmed by Thames Water

Thames Water confirms the ‘temporary use ban’ will start next week as reservoirs drop to lowest levels for 30 years

credit Angela Baker via Unsplash

A hosepipe ban will come into force across London starting from Wednesday, 24th August.

Thames Water announced that following the driest July since 1885, the hottest temperatures on record, and the River Thames reaching its lowest level since 2005, the ‘temporary use ban’ (TUB) would be brought in to help mitigate a significant drop in reservoir levels.

Domestic customers will not be permitted to use hosepipes for cleaning cars, watering gardens or allotments, filling paddling pools and swimming pools or cleaning windows.

The company’s “robust drought plan” is designed to mitigate the risk of further impact to water resources and ensure the taps keep running for customers’ essential use. It is estimated that it will help save up to 10% of current water use.

The recent heatwave and extreme temperatures have resulted in the highest water demand for over 25 years with the company supplying 2.9 billion litres of water a day to customers across the London and Thames Valley region. In some areas during the particularly hot weather, demand for water rose by 50% compared with the norm for the time of year.

Groundwater levels are currently below normal throughout the region and declining towards levels that would be only be expected once a decade. Reservoir storage levels in London and Farmoor, in Oxfordshire, have reduced significantly and are now at levels not seen for around 30 years. 

Alongside a “significant leakage reduction programme”, Thames Water is drawing 120 million litres of groundwater from its North London aquifer recharge system (NLARS) to top-up the water stored in reservoirs.

Thames Water says it is fixing over 1,100 leaks on its 20,000-mile network every week and has met its leakage reduction targets for the past three years.

However, the company has also drawn criticism for incidents including a burst water main in Islington last week that flooded several properties. Thames Water’s average leakage level of 589 mega-litres per day is equivalent to about 23% of the total water supply and is equal to 236 Olympic size swimming pools full of water.

While the TUB does not cover businesses, Thames Water is asking businesses across its area to be mindful of the drought and to use water wisely, for example, by not washing commercial vehicles or turning off water features on their properties. 

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water’s chief executive, said: “Implementing a temporary use ban for our customers has been a very difficult decision to make and one which we have not taken lightly. After months of below average rainfall and the recent extreme temperatures in July and August, water resources in our region are depleted.

“Despite investing in the largest leakage reduction programme in the UK, customer demand is at unprecedented levels and we now have to move into the next phase of our drought plan to conserve water, mitigate further risk and futureproof supplies.

“I’d like to thank all of our customers for the efforts they have already made to conserve water as a result of the media campaign we have been running since May. Reducing demand means reducing the amount of water we have to take from the environment at a time when it is under pressure.

“I would also like to apologise to our customers who have been affected by recent incidents, our dedicated colleagues are working around the clock to manage this challenging situation.”

For more information about the hosepipe ban:

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