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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 15:35 GMT
Water firm's drought order to end
Water running from a tap
The firm supplies Surrey, south London, Sussex and west Kent
A drought order imposed by a south-east water company at the end of May is now set to be lifted.

Sutton and East Surrey Water said it would not be seeking to extend its current water restrictions when the order comes to an end on 15 November.

However, the company will continue to operate the full hosepipe ban it has had in place since March this year.

The drought order was the first of its kind in England and Wales since 1995. It banned any non-essential water use.

Mike Hegarty, operations director for Sutton and East Surrey Water, said: "We must thank our customers for their willing help in significantly reducing water usage this year."

He said they had helped keep demand down over the summer months.

'Disconcertingly dry'

But Mr Hegarty added: "To bring water resources back to normal there needs to be well above average rainfall... to recharge the deep, underground aquifers from which the company gets 85% of its water.

"Above ground it may be raining more than usual - but underground, where it really matters in relation to our future water resources, the story remains disconcertingly dry," he cautioned.

The decision not to ask for an extension to the drought order was taken after consultation with the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Of the other water companies in the drought-hit South East, Thames applied for a drought order but withdrew its request, while Southern and Mid Kent did not enforce the ones they were granted.

Folkestone and Dover Water lifted its ban on hosepipes and sprinklers at the beginning of October.

The bans continue though for customers of Southern Water, Thames Water, South East Water, Mid Kent Water and Three Valleys Water.

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