Drought is set to spread across the UK as water companies impose hosepipe bans across southern and eastern England. Weather Presenter Liam Dutton reports.
Seven firms are introducing water restrictions as a result of two unusually dry winters which have left reservoirs and rivers well below normal levels.
Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are all bringing in restrictions on water use in the south east and East Anglia regions.
Southern Water said it was bringing in a ban on hosepipes and sprinklers for domestic customers in Kent and Sussex from April 5 for the first time since 2005/2006, following the second driest 12 months on record in the region.
And drought is set to spread to more areas of the country if dry weather continues this spring, the Environment Agency has warned.
Click for the full report - Drought prospects for spring and summer 2012
Its latest report predicts that drought could spread as far north as East Yorkshire and as far west as the Hampshire-Wiltshire border if the dry weather continues.
The study said significant recharge of groundwater supplies in drought-affected areas is now unlikely before warmer weather and the spring growing season reduce the amount of water going back into the ground.
Even with a fifth more rain than normally received over the summer, many aquifers could still be well below normal levels over the coming months.
Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to meet the challenges of a continued drought.
“Our report urges water companies, farmers and businesses to look again at ways to improve short-term water storage, share water resources where possible and reduce the amount they and their customers use.
“A prolonged drought will have long term impacts on wildlife and habitats.”
Some power stations which need water for cooling may be affected by water restrictions, although this should not have an impact on the grid as a whole, while water-intensive companies such as concrete producers may also be hit.