Hosepipe ban stays despite deluges
EDENBRIDGE is facing water restrictions stretching into the winter, even in the face of this week's torrential downpours and the lifting of bans by other suppliers.
Bosses at Sutton and East Surrey Water, which supplies Edenbridge and surrounding villages, have even admitted their fears of a third dry winter.
Despite the record rainfall in April, when hosepipe bans were brought in, and the recent downpours, the area needs above-average rainfall this winter just to recharge underwater aquifers to normal levels.
Mike Hegarty, the company's operations director, said: "It will take more than one month of heavy rainfall to remove the underlying problems caused by two years of drought."
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In contrast, neighbouring suppliers Thames Water and Southern Water lifted their own restrictions this week.
The Environment Agency's latest drought briefing also said the wet weather had significantly reduced the risk of drought and widespread water restrictions this summer.
However, Mr Hegarty said Sutton and East Surrey Water's main borehole was 10m lower than it should be at this time of year, despite the rain's positive effect on reservoirs.
He added: "Underground sources provide 85 per cent of our water – so you can appreciate our concerns."
Bough Beech reservoir, which provides the company with just 15 per cent of its water needs, is at 95 per cent of capacity.
Thames Water is in a better position because it relies more on reservoirs and surface water than underground boreholes.
Sutton and East Surrey Water spokesman Stuart Hyslop said the company's hands were tied as it had only one reservoir to draw from.
He added: "If we could take more water out of it we would."
Edenbridge residents, however, were baffled.
Ivy Wilkins, 69, of Springfield Road, said: "It seems silly that I can't wash my car with a hose but the river in town is the highest it has been for a long time after so much rain."
Stangrove Road resident Pat Robyns, 47, said: "I don't think it has stopped raining for weeks – it sure seems that way.
"But we're still in a drought. There's something very wrong there."
Edenbridge resident David King, a forecaster whose talents were called upon for last year's royal wedding, said water companies should keep restrictions at least until February.
Mr King said the current period of unsettled weather would end on about June 24, when the wind would change from a cold easterly to the south-west, bringing warmer, more settled conditions.
Earlier this year, Mr King had predicted a double drought for the area and he said that, despite the recent rain, he stood by this.
He added: "It will get hot, dry and sunny, and this will cause rapid evaporation both in July and August."