As of midnight on 13 June, three of the seven water companies which have had Temporary Usage Bans (TUBs) in place, will lift the restrictions on their customers. The companies are Anglian Water, Southern Water and Thames Water.
High levels of rainfall over April, May and June have helped to refill a number of the above ground water resources, such as rivers and reservoirs. Underground water sources, such as underground aquifers, continue to need more time and more rain to recover. Companies that are heavily reliant on these underground sources are not yet in a position to consider lifting restrictions, but have committed not to keep them in place a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. These companies are South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water and Veolia Central and Veolia South East.
Water companies have applauded and greatly valued the response from their consumers to the restrictions. Whilst the rain and low temperatures have understandably reduced the demands on the public water supply, people have also acted very responsibly in their water usage and have shown great understanding of the weather conditions over the medium term, including the stress on local water resources from two winters of low rainfall. The efforts of individuals and whole communities to work with the restrictions, and make the most efficient use of their tap water has helped to reduce the immediate pressure on precious water supplies and the environment.
Water companies have also played their part, investing to meet and in some cases beat their regulatory leakage targets, and in the process save many millions of litres of water. Companies are also working with consumers, responding to their reports of leaks and helping them with leaks that occur within their own properties. Water companies know well that achieving their leakage targets is important evidence that they are doing their bit to save water too, and the industry has reduced leakage levels for a number of years. A fact not widely reported.
While the lifting of restrictions in some areas is welcome, water companies and consumers alike will need to continue to take the ongoing challenges of maintaining our water resources seriously. In addition to the long term planning undertaken to ensure sustainable water resources locally, water companies continue to encourage water efficiency across their regions and are developing their statutory Drought Plans and strategic business direction statements to help ensure customers continue to experience the high service levels they expect, through ever changing weather patterns.