Yorkshire Water shares reservoir levels update as some parts of England face hosepipe bans
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Months of little rainfall, combined with record-breaking temperatures in July, have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs and dried out soils.
All of this has put pressure on the environment, farming and water supplies, and is fuelling wildfires.
The Met Office has warned there is "very little meaningful rain" on the horizon for parched areas of England as temperatures are set to climb into the 30s next week.
While it could mean another heatwave - when there are above-average temperatures for three days or more - it is likely conditions will be well below the 40C seen in some places last month.
The situation has prompted calls for action to reduce water consumption to protect the environment and supplies, and to restore the country's lost wetlands "on an enormous scale" to tackle a future of more dry summers and droughts.
Can hosepipe bans be counterproductive?
Nature campaigners have criticised water companies for leaving it to "the last possible moment" to bring in restrictions, when rivers are in a "desperate" state, and for last-minute announcements that spur an increase in water demand before hosepipe bans come in.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of The Rivers Trust, said: "Every year we get to this perilous position and at the last possible moment, when the rivers are at their lowest, we get discussion of temporary use bans.
"Announcing it at the last minute causes people to rush to wash their cars and fill their paddling pools, wash the dog, and causes an increase in demand before the ban comes in.
"This should happen before the rivers come to a desperate condition and there's not enough water for wildlife."
The Rivers Trust is calling for accelerated metering, rapid reduction in leakage, support for households to reduce water usage, such as installing low flow toilets and water butts, and sustainable drainage including rain gardens, wetlands and permeable paving to build up local stores of water underground.
What are water companies saying?
Southern Water said it is asking customers "to limit your use to reduce the risk of further restrictions and disruption to water supplies, but more importantly to protect our local rivers".
South East Water said it had been "left with no choice but to restrict the use of hosepipes and sprinklers" from midnight on August 12 within Kent and Sussex "until further notice".
The firm added that it was taking the step "to ensure we have enough water for both essential use and to protect the environment" and to enable a reduction in the amount of water "we need to take from already stressed local water sources".
Other water firms have so far held off bringing in restrictions despite low water levels, though some say they may need to implement bans if the dry weather continues.
Householders who have not yet been hit by restrictions are being urged to avoid using hosepipes for watering the garden or cleaning the car.
Is Yorkshire Water bringing in a hosepipe ban?
Yorkshire Water is not one of the companies with restrictions in place at this stage but it said the region’s reservoirs are being affected by the dry weather seen.
Issuing an update on Twitter this week, the company said: “Though it may feel like it’s always raining in Yorkshire, we’ve not had much of the wet stuff this year. In fact, the weather has been pretty dry since March and our reservoirs are really feeling the impact.
"Despite the recent rainfall we’ve had, it’s still not been enough to top them up, which is why we’re asking everyone to please use water wisely.”
Simple steps for reducing water usage
Yorkshire Water has a range of advice on how customers in the region can reduce their water usage and, in doing so, help to reduce the chance of a hosepipe ban being introduced.
Its simple tips for reducing water usage include:
Putting a full load in the washing machine and using the eco setting, if you've got one, will make a big difference. Fixing that dripping tap could save over 5,500 litres of water a year - that's a lot. Fitting a Flushsaver in your toilet could save 1.2 litres with every flush. It's tempting to throw everything in the dishwasher but using a washing up bowl saves lots of water. If you really hate the idea of rolling up your sleeves, make sure your dishwasher is full and use the eco setting if you have one. Only boiling the amount of water you need will save water and energy. Bathrooms are warm, humid environments that are great for some houseplants. Why not collect cool water from your shower before it warms up and give your indoor plants a drink?
Visit the Yorkshire Water website for more tips on saving water in your home and garden.