Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Reservoirs' surplus produce power

Burrator reservoir
Burrator reservoir is 99.7% full

Reservoirs in the West Country are so full, South West Water (SWW) has been able to generate electricity.

After a total of 50 days of wet weather in November and early December, 14 out of its 18 reservoirs are overflowing.

Of the three major reservoirs, which comprise 74% of the region's total, Colliford and Wimbleball are 100% full, while Roadford is at 96% capacity.

SWW said hydro-electricity was part of a portfolio of measures to reduce both carbon emissions and energy costs.

The company has turbines at Roadford reservoir, Avon water treatment works, Crownhill water treatment works, Littlehempston water treatment works and one at Meldon Dam.

Hosepipe 'confidence'

It also owns two dedicated hydro generation stations at Mary Tavy and Morwellham which were bought from NPower in 1996.

SWW generates about 17 gigawatt hours of renewable energy each year, most of which is used to power its water treatment works and pumping stations.

Where this is not possible, the electricity is exported to the National Grid.

Reservoir storage is currently at 98.4% or 112,745 Megalitres - enough to fill more than 45,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

SWW strategy manager, Neil Whiter, said: "It's looking really good for water supply.

"I'm confident next year will be our 14th consecutive year without a hosepipe ban, but there are other advantages to full reservoirs.

"We are able to generate electricity from water released from our reservoirs and, at the moment, we are generating enough electricity to power over 6,000 households."

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