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Winter rain brings 'astonishing recovery' to Bewl Water

By Luke May

Water levels at a Kent reservoir are returning to normal after an "astonishing recovery".

In January, Southern Water applied for a drought permit to help fill the 31,000 megalitre Bewl Water, having started December at just 33% capacity.

Two months later, winter rain has more than doubled the contents of the reservoir, hitting 75% yesterday.

New water infrastructure is planned for Kent
New water infrastructure is planned for Kent

Southern Water had its drought permit approved by the Environment Agency last month, after October and November saw less than half the usual amount of rain fall in the south east.

"It would have been irresponsible not to have taken every possible step to ensure refill" Nigel Hepworth

The permit meant Southern Water could pump more water than normal out of the nearby River Medway.

But the sudden rainfall meant the permit was never used.

A spokesman from the utility company said the change in fortune was an "astonishing recovery".

Nigel Hepworth, water resources policy manager at Southern Water, said: "Despite not using the permit, we are absolutely sure that applying for it was the right thing to do.

"Given the situation in December, it would have been irresponsible not to have taken every possible step to ensure refill."

The sudden rise suggests water levels in underground aquifers are also on the rise, but remain below the average for this time of year.

Southern Water relies on aquifers to provide nearly 80% of its supply.

Despite lowering the risk of a future hosepipe ban, Southern Water is warning residents not to be complacent.

Mr Hepworth said: "The situation at Bewl was a reflection of the fact that we live in an officially designated water stressed area.

"We urge people not to waste water and in the long term we want customers to reduce average daily use from a currently efficient 133 litres a day to a target of 100 litres a day by 2040."

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