News

Southern Water Applies For Drought Permit To Top Up Reservoir

Water company Southern Water has put in an application for a drought permit to the Environment Agency, asking for permission to pump water from rivers in Kent in order to top up the Bewl Water reservoir near Tunbridge Wells.

 

The supplier explained that very low rainfall in the winter of 2016-2017 and during October and November last year prompted it to put in the request. Because of this low rainfall, the reservoir currently has less than 43 per cent of its maximum capacity, which is 31,000 million litres, Metro reports.

 

It went on to say that at least average rainfall is needed throughout the rest of winter in order to bring the Bewl back to where it should be. The permit from the Environment Agency will provide extra refill if river flows and rainfall stay low.

 

It is required to safeguard the water supplies and reduce the need to restrict use of water during the summer, through the likes of hosepipe bans and so on. The application is open to objections until January 12th, but if approved Southern Water will be able to pump water from the Teise and Medway rivers until March 31st.

 

It’s possible that some in the region may well oppose the plans to grant a permit, since at the start of the year there were five flood alerts in place in the county – with some even warning of rising river levels in Eden Brook and Maidstone.

 

Bewl Water itself is the biggest stretch of open water to be found in south-east England, and as such is a key source of drinking water for both Kent and East Sussex. Its capacity is enough to provide a typical day’s water usage (which currently stands at around 150 litres) to almost 200 million people.

 

Drought permits, orders and emergency drought orders allow suppliers to manage water resources effectively when there’s a drought. In the event of an emergency like a natural disaster, suppliers in England have to apply for a separate emergency licence – including for floods, emergencies arising from mismanagement and other events that damage infrastructure.

 

Before applying, they must prepare and publish a drought plan, including an environmental assessment for the permit. Customer demand must also be limited on any affected water sources – so it’s possible that businesses may find their water supply hindered if this does take place.

 

Government figures show that England’s water companies need adequate water resources to meet the needs of more than 53 million people. The majority of the supply comes from England, but some areas are supplied with Welsh water – so a drought in Wales can affect England’s public water supply.

 

Water companies are legally obliged to provide limited drinking water to domestic properties for essentials if the private supply runs dry because of a drought. Companies supplying water for businesses usually will have to meet the costs of providing these firms with an alternative supply.

 

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