New garden hose bans could be introduced after the environment secretary called on water companies to implement restrictions, the first public intervention by a minister on the potential drought.
George Eustice said it was “right” that some companies had already taken action to cope with the driest period in England since 1976.
Southern Water has imposed a garden hose ban in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. South East Water will enforce a ban from next Friday, while Welsh Water will introduce one for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire from August 19, prohibiting households from using garden hoses to water their gardens, wash their cars or fill the pools.
In a Sunday Telegraph article, Eustice said: ‘I urge other water companies to take responsible action to protect and preserve our water supplies during this exceptionally dry period.’
Eustice also urged companies to do more to reduce leaks and said the government would finalize plans to make it easier to get planning permission for new tanks by the end of this year.
He added: “Water companies have a duty to ensure an adequate supply, and they have assured me that essential water supplies are safe.
“In line with their drought plans, water companies across the country have rightly taken action to mitigate the effects of this prolonged dry weather as pressure has increased on water resources and the environment.”
It comes after the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology said most UK rivers were on ‘red alert’, with campaigners calling for an immediate ban on ladder hosepipes national.
Last month was England’s driest July for over 100 years and some areas experienced their driest summer on record.
Rivers are forecast to be set at the most severe drought warning level across the country, even in areas where there have been rains in recent weeks.
The Rivers Trust has accused water companies of waiting until the last minute to put in place bans to avoid backlash from customers.