[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 16:27 GMT
South east reservoirs recovering
Bewl Water in drought, March 2006
Bewl Water has improved massively since the drought hit last year
Reservoir levels in south east England are in a "better position than this time last year", according to the Environment Agency.

And the main reservoirs in the south east "look good" compared to last February, says Southern Water.

Bewl Water, on the Kent-Sussex border, is at 84% capacity but was previously at 37%. Darwell Reservoir, in East Sussex, is at 87% - previously 68%.

As a result Southern Water is considering removing its hosepipe ban.

Seven water companies currently have hosepipe bans in force in the south east of the country, where drought conditions have been in place since October 2004. The water shortage issues faced by south east England in recent years have been far worse than in the rest of the UK.

Joe Giacomelli, Environment Agency spokesman, said: "A wet autumn and a wet start to the winter have meant most reservoirs have recovered and groundwater levels are improving.

"In south east England we are in a better position than this time last year and the signs are encouraging, but the drought is not over.

HOSEPIPE BAN COMPANIES
Southern Water
Sutton and East Surrey Water
Mid Kent Water
Thames Water
Three Valleys Water
South East Water
Cholderton and District Water

"If the weather changes and the rest of the winter remains dry, it could cause further water resources problems next spring and summer."

Jo Osborn of Southern Water, which covers Kent, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said the company is monitoring the situation and will consider lifting its ban on hosepipe usage, depending on rainfall.

She said: "We're going to look at the weather in January because we don't want to lift the ban too quickly.

"Although the reservoirs look good it's the underground aquifers that supply 70% of our water. We want to make sure they're adequately charged before we remove the hosepipe ban."

Since November 2004, rainfall below the long-term average for 1961 to 1990 has been recorded in 18 out of 24 months in southern England, although the last three months have been well above average.

In November it was revealed that millions of households in southern England could be forced to have water meters installed under proposals to reduce usage.

A map of "water stressed areas" could be in place by 2009 and, according to government estimates, 70% of customers will see their bills come down once they have water meters, with 30% paying more.

Graph showing UK rainfall since 2004




SEE ALSO
What happened to the drought?
05 Oct 06 |  Magazine

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific