Thames Water withdraws drought application


Thames Water announced today that is has withdrawn its application to the government for a drought order to limit water usage across the London and Thames Valley region.

Drought orders, which are authorised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), ban the use of all non-essential water and would have seen activities such as the watering of public parks and sports grounds prohibited if Thames Water's application had been approved.

However, the German-owned company has now withdrawn its application, stressing that the additional water restrictions are no longer necessary after near average rainfall fell in July and August.

As a result, Thames Water says that its London reservoirs are now at 78 per cent of their capacity, higher than at the same time in two of the past three years.

The company said that it had applied for a drought order on June 26th as a "sensible precaution" given the knowledge that the order could have taken up to 12 weeks to be approved and that during the period the London region may have been subject to levels of rainfall at just half the average amount.

Despite the decision by Thames Water to withdraw its application, the company warned that there was still an ongoing drought and that its five million customers in London will still be subject to an existing hosepipe and sprinkler ban.

"The short-term threat has receded enough for us not to need a drought order in 2006, but the underlying situation remains serious," said Thames Water's environment director Richard Aylard, who warned that two successive dry winters had left groundwater levels in the region "very low".

"A third successive dry winter would make the situation worse and – depending on the amount of rain we receive - could mean that we need to apply again for a drought order early in 2007," he added.

Sutton and East Surrey Water is currently the only water company in the country to have a drought order in place, although a total of eight UK firms have imposed hosepipe bans.

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