Heatwave puts pressure on water supplies

Brighton beach Image copyright PA
Image caption The sizzling weather is expected to last over the weekend and into the following week

One of the UK's largest water firms is warning people to conserve supplies as it makes emergency deliveries during the heatwave.

Severn Trent said homes in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire had been temporarily without water as demand has outstripped supply across its network.

United Utilities said it could bring in a hose pipe ban if people do not limit their water usage over the weekend.

Supplier tips include swapping baths for showers and avoiding washing cars.

North West supplier United Utilities said the hose pipe ban may be introduced on Monday unless consumers cut the amount of water they use by at least 5%.

During the heatwave, the company doubled the amount of extra water it was putting into the system to 500m litres, though the North West is currently using 2.2 billion litres a day.

Texts were sent to Severn Trent customers on Friday afternoon, stating there had been a "huge increase in water consumption" and asked people to "use water wisely by not using hoses and taking shorter showers".

This week the UK has seen two of the hottest days of the year so far - with Tuesday reaching a top temperature of 30.6C in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, beating Monday's peak of 30.1C in west London.

Image copyright Mike Kemp/Getty Images
Image caption This week the UK has seen two of the hottest days of the year so far

The sizzling weather is expected to last over the weekend and into the following week.

Severn Trent set up bottled water collection points in Telford and Much Wenlock in Shropshire, parts of Staffordshire and Ashbourne, Parwich and Longcliffe in Derbyshire on Tuesday and Wednesday after supplies were affected.

It also advised customers in Rugby, Warwickshire, to use less water since supplies were disrupted on Thursday evening.

Trucks were sent out by the firm, which has 4.3 million customers from Rutland to Powys, to pump water directly into the network.

It had put an extra 300 million litres in its network on Wednesday.

People in Northern Ireland are to see a hosepipe ban introduced this weekend, with NI Water appealing for people not to use water for washing cars, filling pools and sprinkling gardens.

SES Water, which serves east Surrey, West Sussex, west Kent and south London, said it distributed an extra 40 million litres on Sunday, bringing the total to 238 million litres, the highest volume recorded so far this year.

Southern Water, which provides water and wastewater services for Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, also asked people to avoid washing cars and windows "until the weather begins to cool down".

In Birmingham, homeless charities and outreach groups said tempers flared as rough sleepers fought over bottles of water on Tuesday.

While in Bridgemere, near Nantwich in Cheshire, the BBC understands a primary school closed and sent children home early on Friday due to issues with its water supply. Nearby Bridgemere Garden Centre is also understood to have closed over its lack of water.

The Environment Agency tweeted it had rescued about 130 trout and salmon from a depleted River Teme in north Herefordshire.

However, Severn Trent said reservoir levels remained plentiful and it does not foresee a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks.

"With the region still basking in the hottest June for 40 years, demand for water has increased massively and, while Severn Trent has ramped up production at its treatment works, it still needs its customers to consider how they're using water," a spokesman said.

South West Water said its reservoir levels were at 84.6% compared to 76.2% this time last year, but it was constantly monitoring the situation.

Water-saving tips:

  • Avoid using a garden sprinkler - they can use as much as 1,000 litres of drinking water in an hour, more water than a family of four would normally use in a day
  • A shower uses 40 litres less water than a bath
  • If you have to wash the car, use a bucket and sponge rather than a hose. Cleaning a car for 30 minutes with a bucket of water instead of a hose means using 50 times less water

Source: Severn Trent

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