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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July, 2005, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Downpours 'will not ease drought'
Garden hosepipe
Bans on hoses and sprinklers have been brought in across the region
The long awaited rainfall over the last couple of days has not been enough to persuade water companies in the South East to lift their bans on hosepipes.

Metereologists said only about one centimetre of rain fell over the weekend, with the region still suffering serious drought conditions.

Southern Water said Weirwood reservoir, in East Grinstead, West Sussex, was still only about 39% full on Monday.

Spokesman Geoff Loader said it followed eight months of below average rainfall.

A week of consistent rainfall would be good, preferably late at night so that it does not evaporate, to help soften up the ground
Jacob Tompkins, Water UK

The Environment Agency said although the recent downpour may have brought some relief to gardeners, it had not changed the effect of the drought.

"It would need more water to fall more consistently. Torrential rainfall for a few hours would water gardens but would not do much for water levels," a spokesman said.

Southern Water, which has imposed restrictions in its Sussex and Kent regions, said its Weirwood reservoir should normally be about 80% full at this time of year.

Bans on sprinklers and unattended hoses have also been introduced by Sutton and East Surrey Water, South East Water and Mid Kent Water, while Southern Water has two hosepipe bans.

Weirwood Reservoir
Weirwood reservoir is so depleted that it is only 39% full

Mr Loader said: "We forecasted this problem arising someway through the middle of last year and we put into place a series of measures which enabled us to rest our underground water resources and use the water which was in the rivers.

"Unfortunately the rainfall has been so small, and the drought has been so severe, that we're now in the situation where we do have to put in restrictions.

"If we can curb the demand then it stops water being wasted and it will help us ensure that we have water for everyday purposes throughout the summer."

A spokesman for Water UK said although some people talked about the wrong kind of rain, any rainfall was good.

Policy development adviser Jacob Tompkins said: "A week of consistent rainfall would be good, preferably late at night so that it does not evaporate, to help soften up the ground.

"Then the rainfall could penetrate and help recharge sources."

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