Southern Water has today launched a public consultation on how it would keep the taps running for one of life’s essentials during a drought.
The company has published its draft Drought Plan, which sets out how it plans to promote water-saving and maintain vital water supplies during droughts, which are likely to become more frequent in the future due to the effects of climate change.
Droughts can happen anywhere in the world and at any time when there is less rain than usual, leaving a shortage for people, wildlife, the environment, businesses and farming.
Other events can also put extra pressure on water supplies – such as very hot summers when people tend to use much more water. The Covid pandemic has also seen water use rise significantly in homes.
Nick Price, Water Resources Planning Manager at Southern Water, said:
“The South East is one of the most water stressed regions in the UK. It’s vitally important we hear what our customers have to say about our plans and how we are planning ahead for the risks a drought can present.
“Having a drought plan is a vital part of making sure we can always keep sufficient water flowing for everyone’s daily essentials.
“We all have a role to play in tackling droughts and the earlier we can all take action and safeguard supplies the more we can reduce the impact on the environment and wildlife and delay the introduction of restrictions for activities like watering gardens and washing cars with hosepipes.
“Supporting vulnerable customers’ access to water and by only bringing in restrictions on water use by businesses in a severe drought are also key parts of our plan. We hope everyone will take a few minutes to explore our plans and share their feedback – it really is important to us as we can only tackle droughts effectively if we work together.”
Southern Water’s updated plans set out how the company would:
- Do even more to find and fix leaks
- Promote more free water-saving devices and home audits
- Raise awareness across the South East when there is pressure on water supplies
- Move water to where it’s most needed
- Introduce Temporary Use Bans (formerly hosepipe bans) and then Non-Essential Use Bans to restrict water use at home and work
- Apply for permission to maintain supplies from water sources – which may have lower water levels than usual
- Monitor the environment and take action to support wildlife
- Co-ordinate with water companies and Government to tackle droughts together.
If a drought were to continue for several years, the plan also includes options to encourage everyone to reduce their water use to 80 or even 50 litres per person per day (from an average of 127 litres) – as happened in South Africa in 2018 as the country approached ‘Day Zero’ of no water.
There have been 3 droughts in the South East since 2000 and Southern Water carefully monitors water levels all year round so it’s well prepared if a drought starts.
The plan builds on the company’s daily activities to find and fix leaks and promote water-saving to reduce personal water use to 100 litres per person per day as part of its Target 100 programme.
To find out more, read the full documents and take part in the consultation, which runs until 2nd August, visit southernwater.co.uk/droughtplan.