Possibility of hosepipe ban looms as rivers run at low levels

Hanningfield reservoir

PARTS of Essex face the possibility of hosepipe bans in the spring despite months of wet weather.

River levels across Essex are much lower than normal for this time of the year – despite above average rainfall.

The most recent water report the Environment Agency shows that water levels at four out of five reservoirs in East Anglia are below normal or lower.

The Chelmer has been experiencing exceptionally low river flows – 66 per cent of the long term average. And levels of the Colne have been even lower at 50 per cent of the long term average.

In September Hanningfield reservoir, near Billericay, was 51 per cent full, while Abberton, near Colchester, was 46 per cent full.

Groundwater Aquifers in Cambridge and Suffolk, from which much of the water used in Essex is abstracted, were either notably or exceptionally low.

Although more recent rain in October is expected to improve the situation, the Environment Agency has said despite the recent heavy downpours across the UK, the South East has received below average rainfall over the past three years.

A lack of rainfall, combined with high water consumption and climate change, mean areas in and around Essex are suffering from environmental drought.

Affinity Water, which supplies water to 3.6 million people across the South East, has warned it might need to introduce a hosepipe ban in the spring if there is above average rainfall throughout the whole of the winter.

A report published last month for the situation in September said: “Above average rainfall at the end of September has realised a total of 131 per cent of the long term average (LTA) rainfall for the month with 65.5 mm falling across the area.

“Although this has decreased the soil moisture deficit, groundwater recharge has not yet started and river flows at all indicator sites (with the exception of North Norfolk) continue to be lower than normal for the time of year.

“Reflecting this the reservoir levels also continued to decrease and the groundwater support schemes have been operating to support river flows.”

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency said: “Last month we had more than 150 per cent long term rainfall in East Anglia.

“Whilst this was welcome the region still remains in drought.”