Thames Water plans to bring in a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks, following the driest July since 1935 and the prospect of another heatwave this month.
The ban would be the third implemented in England this year, following Southern Water’s ban which began last Friday in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and South East Water announcing restrictions in Kent and Sussex from 12 August.
The utilities group is the UK’s largest water provider, home to over 15 million customers across London and southern England.
This includes Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Kent.
A spokesperson said: “Given the long term forecast of dry weather and another forecast of very hot temperatures coming this week we are planning to announce a temporary use ban in the coming weeks.”
Temperatures are set to reach up to 35C in some parts of the country this week and the Met Office has issued a four-day amber heat warning which applies to large swathes of England and Wales from Thursday until Sunday.
While the timing of the ban is “not confirmed,” the company has begun updating customers and regulators over the upcoming restricitons.
Thames Water revealed it has already written to the Environment Agency to update them on its approach, and informed regulator Ofwat.
“In the meantime we continue to urge our customers to only use what they need for their essential use,” the spokesperson added.
Water firms plagued by sewage scandals
The utility provider’s decision to implement a hosepipe ban factors in Met office forecasts, reservoir storage levels and expectations for customer demand.
It operates to an internal “Drought Plan,” and has accelerated work on its reservoirs this summer to provide more storage in recent months.
Earlier this week, the company started providing water-saving advice to customers such as using a watering can for gardening instead of a hosepipe and taking shorter showers.
Commenting on its approach, the spokesperson explained: “We have recently started supporting our supplies in other ways, including drawing water from our North London Aquifer Recharge System (NLARS) which means we need to take less water from our reservoirs. Our aim is always to ensure that we will have enough water to supply our customers, regardless of the weather.”
Currently, Ofwat has an enforcement case open against Thames Water – which is assessing whether the company is complying with its environmental obligations over treating sewage water.
Others facing enforcement cases include Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Thames Water, Wessex Water and Yorkshire Water.
It also reported 12 serious pollution incidents last year, the third highest among suppliers in the industry.
Ofwat and the Environmental Agency announced investigations into all water and wastewater companies last November.
This was after several water companies revealed they might not be treating as much sewage at their wastewater treatment works as they should be, and that this could be resulting in sewage discharges into rivers and other environments without permission to do so.