Yorkshire Water issues hosepipe ban update as dry weather continues

Hosepipe bans have not been introduced in Yorkshire, but households have been warned that future restrictions cannot be ruled out due to concerns about a potential drought.

Southern Water and South East Water have announced hosepipe bans over the last week, as water supplies have dwindled following the UK’s driest eight-month period since 1976.

Yorkshire Water has not introduced any restrictions yet, but said they may be required in the coming months if the dry weather continues.

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Utilities companies can apply for Temporary Use Bans, to prevent people from using hosepipes, or Drought Orders, which prohibit “non-essential use” of water.

low water levels at Holme Styes reservoir in Holmfirth West Yorkshire last monthlow water levels at Holme Styes reservoir in Holmfirth West Yorkshire last month
low water levels at Holme Styes reservoir in Holmfirth West Yorkshire last month

A Yorkshire Water spokeswoman said: “Yorkshire has experienced a particularly dry spring and summer and the reservoirs and rivers in our region are seeing the impact.

“Reservoir levels are currently around 51 per cent – they declined by two per cent over the last week despite the rainfall we had across Yorkshire.

“We’re always asking our customers to reduce their usage where they can and allow their lawns to go brown, not wash the car for a few weeks and turn the taps off when they’re brushing their teeth to stop waste and reduce the likelihood of restrictions later in the summer.”

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She added: “We’re working around the clock to move water around our network of pipes to keep taps flowing and we’re doing our bit to save water where we can too. Our team of leakage inspectors are out and about across Yorkshire, working hard to save water from leaky pipes, and are prioritising larger leaks.”

The Environment Agency said water companies lost 2.3bn litres per day to leaks between April 2020 to March 2021, up from 2.2bn in the previous year.

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Last month saw a record-breaking heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40C, and the driest July in records dating back to 1836 for south east and central southern England.

For England as a whole last month was the driest since 1935, Met Office figures show. The country could be in drought this month if the dry conditions continue, the Environment Agency has warned.

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The Wildlife Trusts, said wetlands need to be restored, to ensure the UK can cope with prolonged periods of dry weather.

Trusts’ Water Policy Manager Ali Morse said: “Development, drainage for agriculture and over-extraction by water companies have contributed to the loss of 90 per cent of our wetlands in the last 100 years – with a devastating impact for wildlife and the natural processes that enable ecosystems to function.

“As our climate changes, and we experience more dry spells and periods of drought, we must restore wetland habitats on an enormous scale. This will help retain water in the landscape when it’s scarce, topping up river flows and providing a much-needed boost to wildlife.”

Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak wants to look at introducing compensation if a hosepipe ban is a direct consequence of water companies’ failures.

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The former chancellor told The Daily Telegraph he would consider introducing the measure, with hosepipe bans coming into force in parts of England as months of dry conditions push the country towards drought.

“It is unacceptable for water companies to impose restrictions on their customers when they fail to stem leaks,” he said. “We need tougher financial penalties on the companies that are not investing enough to stop water being wasted.”