Anglian Water clocks up 20 years without hosepipe ban

ANGLIAN Water will this month reach a milestone in its history, notching up 20 years since it last had to enforce a hosepipe ban.

Despite managing the water supply for the driest part of the UK, action by the water company and its customers has ensured the region has not had to suffer during extended periods of dry weather. In other parts of the country, restrictions during the summer have become commonplace.

The last dry spell to trigger a hosepipe ban saw 34 months of below average rainfall between 1988 and 1991. At the time, this represented the longest continuous period of dry weather since 1899. More than one million people were affected by the ban which began on August 10th 1990, eventually covered all of Norfolk and parts of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, and lasted 448 days.

“We don’t want to ever go back to times of restricting people’s use”, said Ciaran Nelson, a spokesperson for Anglian Water, “and we’re confident that, because of the steps we’ve taken, we won’t find ourselves in that position any time soon. We must not forget, though, that water is a really precious resource. Regardless of the position we’re in, we’d always encourage sensible and conservative water use by our customers.

“It’s taken a lengthy and dedicated campaign to get us to where we are,” said Ciaran. “We’ve invested heavily to improve our resilience to extended dry periods.”

At the time of the drought that caused the last hosepipe ban in 1990 and 1991, Anglian Water invested �25million in water resilience schemes to resolve the problem. The company drilled or commissioned 37 additional boreholes, improved 17 water treatment works and 19 pumping stations, and laid over 100km of new trunk mains.

Since then, a total of �50million has been invested to try and ensure the region isn’t left without during periods of dry weather.

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“We’ve also addressed the problem of leakage,” said Ciaran. “We’d never claim to have that one completely sewn up because it’s a never ending battle, but we do lead the industry, with water loss figures at around half the average.

“Water meters play a significant role too. Around two-thirds of our household customers currently have a meter, and they find that as well as saving money, they also use less water. Some reduce consumption by as much as 15 percent. But this isn’t about going without - it’s about not wasting what you use.”

Anglian Water has also helped its customers understand the value of water, and how to conserve it. The company is currently installing free household water saving devices in areas officially classed as ‘water stressed’. Plumbers visit customers’ homes, fix minor leaks, and fit devices that lower water consumption.

Ciaran continued, “Ironically, it’s not the hot summers that we worry about, but it’s the dry winters. Ensuring that our reservoirs and underground aquifers are topped up over the colder months is a critical part of ensuring a healthy supply in the summer.

“We’ll be watching the weather forecast with interest as we head towards the autumn. We’ve been saving for a not-so-rainy day for a long time now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be glad to see the levels in our reservoirs and underground aquifers start to rise again as the winter comes.”