Thames Water lifts hosepipe ban after above-average rainfall

<span>Photograph: Yui Mok/PA</span>
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

A hosepipe ban imposed on 15 million people in England is being lifted after three months, it has been announced.

Thames Water said the scrapping of the measure was possible due to recent above-average rainfall and the public’s compliance. But the company, which thanked individuals and businesses for helping save water while stocks needed replenishing, urged them to continue showing restraint in their usage.

“We are grateful to our customers for their support in saving water during the hosepipe ban,” said Thames Water’s chief executive, Sarah Bentley. “Small changes can make a huge difference when it comes to preserving water and we are thankful to all our customers for their efforts.

“Careful consideration has gone into our decision to remove the ban. Despite the recent rain, we still need to protect our future water supply. We need more rain throughout winter to ensure our rivers and reservoirs are fully recharged, ready for spring and summer next year.

“Whilst storage levels have improved at many of our reservoirs, we’re not out of the woods yet. Some sites in west London remain below average, which is why we’re adopting a cautious approach and carefully monitoring water levels throughout autumn and winter.”

When it announced the hosepipe ban, Thames Water said levels in its reservoirs were “much lower than usual”.

The ban came into effect on 24 August after a drought was officially declared across most of England following the driest July for 50 years and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

Thames Water said demand for water reduced significantly during the ban, supporting supply and helping to keep taps flowing. This, coupled with recent heavy rain, has meant that river and reservoir levels have started to improve.

The company said storage levels were improving at many reservoirs across the region, including Farmoor, which supplies about 480,000 customers across Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, where water levels have returned to near-normal levels of 87%.

When the ban was first mooted, police officials had to urge members of the public not to report suspected breaches to forces. They said they had already received 999 calls about residents’ use of water, even before restrictions had been put in place. The hosepipe ban was a civil matter, not a criminal one.