Published: 13:06, 09 July 2021
| Updated: 15:06, 09 July 2021
As we prepare for another washout weekend in a summer which got off to one of the wettest starts on record, Kent residents have received emails warning about water use.
South East Water contacted customers, predicting dry weather and a boom in staycations may put a strain on supplies.
The firm states “our water resources are in a healthy position” at the moment but says, due to the coronavirus health crisis, it is concerned more of us will decide to stay in the county this year and, therefore, more water will be used.
It comes after South East Water recorded record-breaking demand last August when, despite producing an extra 150 million litres of drinking water a day, it struggled to meet demand.
This year, however, the weather has been a different story.
This May is said to be one of the wettest on record and, despite temperatures improving at the start of June, the end of that month saw heavy thunderstorms.
Parts of the South East recorded more than double the average rainfall during the month, with more showers predicted this weekend.
Retired Kent Police finance director Mr Harrison, who lives in Boughton Monchelsea, near Maidstone, admits he was left bemused to receive an email from South East Water this week, warning about water use later in the year.
The 74-year-old, of Haste Hill Road, whose two horses live on a livery farm, in Frittenden, added: “We have more water than we know what to do with this year, and they are asking me to save water. I’m saying to myself ‘Just what is going on here?’
“The fields are so wet, when I go to get the horses in, I’m still treating the fields as though we are in the middle of January.
“If they are that frightened now, there will be all sorts of problems in 10 years’ time.”
Mr Harrison fears things will only get worse in the coming years, with thousands more houses set to be built across the country.
“Like everybody else, I resent this housing expansion in the area which is getting completely out of control and is exceeding the road safety capacity and the water capacity,” said father-of-two Mr Harrison who has three grandchildren.
“It seems about time to make the point, you cannot keep making houses when you don’t have the infrastructure for them.”
Should temperatures rise, the Snodland-based firm says it will urge people to use a bucket and sponge instead of a hosepipe to clean their cars, and to re-use paddling pool water.
Lee Dance, head of water resources, said: “We are with everyone else in hoping that summer, which seems to be on hold for now, soon returns to Kent.
'We are with everyone else in hoping that summer, which seems to be on hold for now, soon returns to Kent'
“Our water resources are in a healthy position at the current time and where we would expect them to be.
“However, due to Covid-19, more of us are at home or taking a staycation in the county and this adds up to more water being used than normal.
“We experienced similar Covid-related restrictions last summer and, during the August heatwave, we were producing an extra one hundred million litres of drinking water every day which put a strain on the county’s water network.
“Our technicians worked round the clock to produce the extra drinking quality water needed - the equivalent of 1.25 million flushes of the toilet – but with the record amount of water used daily, it was hard to keep up with the extra demand.”
Mr Dance did, however, add a recent survey showed customers were thinking about ways to save on water usage as they spend more time in their houses.
He said: “Customers also told us that they are using their washing machines and dishwashers more often than they normally would. The increased number of home workers making teas and coffees all day has also stretched the demand for water.
“The good news was 85% of customers said they were starting to think about ways to save water, and we have an important job in helping anyone who wants to save water.
“Taking all this into account, we decided to start the conversations early this summer by email with our customers, so they can be proactive in helping us if and when we call on them for help.
“Following last years’ experience, it’s the responsible thing to do to keep our customers informed throughout the summer about water use.”
He adds they will “work around the clock” once again if demand for water rises.
It also outlines the measures that will be put in place in the event of a hot weather alert, before adding: "We hope we don't have to issue alerts very often but, if everyone pulls together for just a few short days, we’ll to be able keep water flowing for everyone."