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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 April 2006, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Three more hosepipe bans come in
The South East is in the grip of its driest period in almost 80 years
Three more water firms in the south-east of England are bringing in hosepipe bans for domestic customers in the drought-hit region.

Folkestone and Dover Water's (FDWS) restriction came into force on Sunday, while Thames Water and Three Valleys Water will follow suit on Monday.

Meanwhile, South East Water's hosepipe ban is being extended to its customers in north Hampshire, Surrey and Berks.

The restrictions follow two successive dry winter periods in the South East.

In March, a government ruling gave FDWS the power to force its customers to install water meters.

'Tougher restrictions'

Spokesman Gavin McHale said of the new hosepipe restrictions: "We are asking customers to use watering cans in the garden and a bucket to wash cars

"Sensible water savings can make a big difference and will enable us to cope much better with a dry and hot summer.

"It is very unlikely that we will have to consider standpipes but if the non-essential use of water is not reduced then other tougher restrictions may have to be brought in."

It's not a little bit of dry weather, it's two consecutive very dry winters
Nick Tennet, from Thames Water

FDWS said any domestic customers found using a hosepipe as of Sunday would be reminded of the ban and asked to comply.

Legal enforcement of the ban would be used as a last resort, the company said.

It also warned that if the water shortage worsened then non-domestic restrictions were possible, for example on car washes and the watering of parks and golf courses.

The first water company to institute a hosepipe ban was Southern Water in June 2005
Mid Kent Water, South East Water, Sutton & East Surrey and Cholderton & District Water all followed
From Monday, hosepipe bans will also be enforced by Thames Water and Three Valleys Water
A hosepipe left on for an hour uses 1,000 litres of water - equal to the average person's consumption for six days
Source: Environment Agency

Nick Tennet, from Thames Water, which has eight million customers, blamed a lack of rainfall for the company's decision to introduce a ban from Monday.

He said: "It's not a little bit of dry weather, it's two consecutive very dry winters.

"It is normally very, very wet at this time of year. It's not, it's bone dry and that's why we need this hosepipe ban."

A spokesman for the Campaign for Water Justice criticised the bans.

Neil Fishpool told the BBC: "It may be below average rainfall but specialists in climatology predicted that this was going to happen.

"I would look to solve this problem by moving water from the wet north to dry south."

The reasons given for the water restrictions

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