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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Water supply doubt over new homes
Path at Weir Wood reservoir
A path which was hidden underwater has reappeared at Weir Wood
The impact of climate change on water supplies is being discussed in an area of southern England which has experienced months of low rainfall.

West Sussex county councillors are visiting the drought-hit Weir Wood and Ardingly reservoirs before a public meeting with three water companies.

The aim is to see if proposed future house building in the county is viable given the current water shortage.

South East Water, Portsmouth Water and Southern Water will be at the meeting.

Representatives from the Environment Agency will be attending, as well as climate change expert Professor Nigel Arnell, from Southampton University's geography department.

Extra housing

The South East Plan, proposed by the South East England Regional Assembly, recommends that 2,900 new homes are built in West Sussex every year from 2006 until 2026.

Councillor Martin Daws-Chew, chair of the Strategic Environmental Services Select Committee, said Wednesday's meeting, in Burgess Hill, would look at the "implications for [water] supplies to the extra housing, schools and industrial premises".

He said it would provide a "much better understanding of the pressures that new development will have for the water industry, and whether it can cope with demand".

Southern Water manages the Weir Wood reservoir while Ardingly is maintained by South East Water.

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