In June, we warned that flows in the River Test were falling. We said that under new rules governing when we can take water out of the river to supply to customers there was an increased risk of drought this summer.
Last week, flows dropped to the point where we forecast that a drought permit may be needed to continue using the river – which is a vital source of fresh water for south Hampshire.
This week we are applying to our regulator the Environment Agency for a drought permit that will permit us to continue using the river if flows go on dropping as forecast.
Using a drought permit means that we must do everything in our power to reduce water use and so minimise the impact on the river’s precious and unique habitat.
For our part, we have been deploying extra teams and technology to tackle leaks. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, we’re now wasting 5 million fewer litres a day than in February as a result.
We’ve also been helping our customers to become more water efficient by using simple devices in the home or garden such as water butts.
We’ve also been importing water from neighbouring companies under bulk supply agreements to bolster resources and reduce the amount we need to take from the river.
But if the drought permit is granted we will be asking more of our customers by imposing TUBs (Temporary Use Bans previously known as hosepipe bans) in certain areas. If we do have to do this, it will be carried out in a phased way in specific areas which depend on the River Test for water and we’ll provide full details in advance.
We understand this is disruptive and inconvenient but we’ve also seen our customers feedback that protecting the environment and the River Test is a priority for them too.
We will continue to keep our customers up dated on the progress of permit application.
Notes to Editors:
Information about the new rules on taking water from the Test can be found here: https://beta.southernwater.co.uk/protecting-hampshires-rivers
The permit application and supporting documents are here: https://beta.southernwater.co.uk/hampshire-drought
We give free home visits where water saving devices can be fitted give advice on how to cut bills and protect the environment by reducing water use: https://www.southernwater.co.uk/home-visit