Water firm faces backlash for threatening 15million customers with hosepipe ban

Water firm faces backlash for threatening 15million customers with hosepipe ban

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Thames Water was today accused of hypocrisy after demanding its 15million customers cut water use – and a looming hosepipe ban – when there were two gigantic leaks on their watch overnight where potentially millions of gallons of water have been wasted.

Streets in Dartford, Kent, and close to Arsenal FC’s stadium in Islington, north London, are flooded with water cascading through the streets and homes and businesses left without supply after burst mains caused chaos.

Yet over the weekend, Thames Water, the UK’s largest water company whose boss Sarah Bentley earns £2million-a-year plus a recent £727,000 bonus, asked customers in London to conserve water by using a can instead of a hose in the garden and by taking shorter showers.

The company was also accused of shutting down an emergency drought plant in east London to save on power costs. The desalination facility at Beckton takes water from the Thames and treats it to create drinking water – but is currently out of action.

South East Water has announced a ban from this Friday, affecting 2.2million customers in Kent and Sussex. On Friday, Southern Water became the first company to impose a hosepipe ban for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight. 

And 17million more people in other parts of England could soon be hit by further bans after Thames Water and South West Water both warned they might soon have to bring in restrictions – which would affect 15million customers in London and the Thames Valley, and around two million in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. In some areas neighbours are being urged to snitch on those flouting any ban – punishable by a £1,000 fine.

But customers paying hundreds of pounds a year for water have slammed the companies for failing to get on top of leaks in the system, which amount to 3billion litres each day.

It has led to some Britons looking for loopholes to protect their gardens and keep cool during a summer where the UK sweltered in its hottest temperature in history – 40.3C (104f) on July 19.

Hoses can still be used on new lawns in the 28 days after they were laid and the ban doesn’t apply to watering plants in outdoor pots – or under cover in a greenhouse. Hot tubs are exempt – but not swimming pools or paddling pools. Britons call also rinse out their bins and boats.

Thames Water want its customers to save one water – but this was the scene in Islington, North London today, after a water main apparently burst

A motorcyclist negotiates th substantial flooding on roads near to the Arsenal Stadium, following a rupture of water mains

A motorcyclist negotiates th substantial flooding on roads near to the Arsenal Stadium, following a rupture of water mains

A motorcyclist negotiates th substantial flooding on roads near to the Arsenal Stadium, following a rupture of water mains

Rows of streets in N7 have been flooded by the major leak this morning

Streets in the Hornsey Road area - N7 - were largely under water this morning after a huge leak this morning

Streets in the Hornsey Road area - N7 - were largely under water this morning after a huge leak this morning

Streets in the Hornsey Road area - N7 - were largely under water this morning after a huge leak this morning

Streets in the Hornsey Road area - N7 - were largely under water this morning after a huge leak this morning

Streets in the Hornsey Road area – N7 – were largely under water this morning after a huge leak this morning

Streets in Dartford, Kent, another Thames Water area, were also under water. The leak left homes with running water themselves

Streets in Dartford, Kent, another Thames Water area, were also under water. The leak left homes with running water themselves

Streets in Dartford, Kent, another Thames Water area, were also under water. The leak left homes with running water themselves

Hosepipe bans are already in place with more on the way. Other companies are threatening one

Hosepipe bans are already in place with more on the way. Other companies are threatening one

Hosepipe bans are already in place with more on the way. Other companies are threatening one

Water companies have been ‘strongly urged’ to introduce hosepipe bans across the country, as the Met Office warned of a second heatwave and another parched week without rain.

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Environment Secretary George Eustice called for more companies to introduce water use restrictions as the UK faces the threat of a drought following the driest July since 1935.

Only three water companies out of 11 in England and Wales have announced a ban – which prevents people from watering gardens, washing cars or filling pools – despite no rain being forecast for at least the next seven days.

The Met Office said England and Wales will remain completely dry this week while temperatures are expected to exceed 30C again.

Temperatures will climb from highs of 29C today, to 30C on Tuesday, and 32C on Wednesday, with a 40 per cent chance of highs of 35 degrees of more by the end of the week.

A Met Office spokesman said: ‘The whole of England and Wales looks entirely dry and increasingly hot and sunny too. There is not going to be any rain in England and Wales until at least Monday next week and even then, it’s uncertain given it’s a week away.

‘If you are looking for rain unfortunately it’s bad news. If we do see a change to something a little bit wetter, it’s unlikely to be widespread rain. It’s more likely to be showers, so hit and miss. But it will be at least a whole week of no rain.’

The perfect storm of high temperatures and low rainfall is impacting water levels in reservoirs across the UK and campaigners say that not enough is being doing to ensure households don’t run out of water.

Feargal Sharkey, the singer turned environmentalist, demanded Mr Eustice do more and enforce a full hosepipe ban across the country.

‘I will be really surprised if there’s not a hosepipe ban throughout the whole of England within the next two weeks,’ he said.

‘If there is another dry winter, like what we had last year, London is faced with the prospect of people at standpipes collecting water. That’s how precarious the whole water supply has become.’

In the first public intervention from the Government, Mr Eustice called on more water companies to ban hosepipes so water supplies don’t spiral out of control.

‘In accordance with their drought plans, water companies across the country have rightly taken action to mitigate the effects of this prolonged dry weather using the range of tools available to them,’ he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

‘I strongly urge others to do the same.’

Fire chiefs have pleaded with Britons to avoid garden barbecues as amid warnings from forecasters of a second heatwave and another week without rain.

Water companies have also been ‘strongly urged’ to introduce hosepipe bans as drought conditions in Europe have also seen river levels fall dramatically low.

The Met Office has said England and Wales will remain completely dry this week, while temperatures are expected to exceed 30C again. 

Temperatures will climb from highs of 29C today to 30C on Tuesday and 32C on Wednesday, with a 40 per cent chance of highs of 35 degrees of more.

It comes after 40 people had to be rescued from their homes in Chelmsford, Essex, on Saturday following a fire which damaged 15 houses and back gardens. 

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While the cause of the fire is unclear, fire chiefs warned people not to use a BBQ in the hot weather.

Fire service station manager Dan Wastell has urged households to avoid ‘refrain from having barbecues’ due to the risk of fire, The Sun reports.

He said: ‘We’re dealing with unprecedented temperatures coupled with drought-like conditions. Everything is ­tinder-dry.

Two friends sunbathe on the dry grass of Southampton Common which resembled a sandy beach during the hot weather on Sunday

Two friends sunbathe on the dry grass of Southampton Common which resembled a sandy beach during the hot weather on Sunday

Two friends sunbathe on the dry grass of Southampton Common which resembled a sandy beach during the hot weather on Sunday

Around 70 firefighters were called to put out a blaze in Feltham yesterday afternoon (pictured), with footage on social media showing the blaze tearing through a back garden

Around 70 firefighters were called to put out a blaze in Feltham yesterday afternoon (pictured), with footage on social media showing the blaze tearing through a back garden

Around 70 firefighters were called to put out a blaze in Feltham yesterday afternoon (pictured), with footage on social media showing the blaze tearing through a back garden

A pond has dried up and conkers have started to fall at a park in Wanstead, east London due to the current hot weather amid warnings of another heatwave

A pond has dried up and conkers have started to fall at a park in Wanstead, east London due to the current hot weather amid warnings of another heatwave

A pond has dried up and conkers have started to fall at a park in Wanstead, east London due to the current hot weather amid warnings of another heatwave

A view of Blackheath, London, on Sunday as parched parts of England are facing a hosepipe ban amid very dry conditions and ahead of another predicted heatwave

A view of Blackheath, London, on Sunday as parched parts of England are facing a hosepipe ban amid very dry conditions and ahead of another predicted heatwave

A view of Blackheath, London, on Sunday as parched parts of England are facing a hosepipe ban amid very dry conditions and ahead of another predicted heatwave

A man lies in a chair on dried out ground in Green Park on Sunday following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall in London

A man lies in a chair on dried out ground in Green Park on Sunday following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall in London

A man lies in a chair on dried out ground in Green Park on Sunday following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall in London

Deep cracks in the ground have opened in Brockwell Park in south London, pictured on Sunday, with the whole region receiving almost no rainfall in the last month

Deep cracks in the ground have opened in Brockwell Park in south London, pictured on Sunday, with the whole region receiving almost no rainfall in the last month

Deep cracks in the ground have opened in Brockwell Park in south London, pictured on Sunday, with the whole region receiving almost no rainfall in the last month

‘That’s a considerable fire risk. Fire and rescue services in the UK are strongly recommending that, where possible, people refrain from having bonfires in their gardens.

‘This is predominantly based around bonfires and chimineas, but we are also advising for this period where possible, for people to refrain from having barbecues.

‘I appreciate it is the time of the year people like to use their gardens and want to make the most of the sun, but they must do so sensibly, and keep the risk of fire low.

‘I would urge people to think about whether they need to use their barbecue — for example, they could cook indoors and eat outside.’

Kent Fire and Rescue Service area manager Neil Fenwick added: ‘We’re strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment.’

A huge grass fire near Heathrow Airport forced 60 people to flee from their homes and sent plumes of black smoke across west London. 

And around 70 firefighters were called to put out the blaze in Feltham yesterday afternoon. 

Footage on social media showed the blaze tearing through one back garden as firefighters battled to save an entire street.

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary George Eustice has encouraged water firms to introduce hosepipe bans and fine customers if they flout them.

Only three water companies out of 11 in England and Wales have announced a ban – which prevents people from watering gardens, washing cars or filling pools – despite no rain being forecast for at least seven days. 

Drought conditions in Europe have also seen river levels fall dramatically low – leading to the discovery of a 1,000lb (450kg) bomb from the Second World War near Mantua in northern Italy. It was only made safe by military experts yesterday after being located on July 25.

The Met Office said England and Wales will remain completely dry this week while temperatures are expected to exceed 30C again. 

Reservoirs in the south west of the UK are understood to be less than half full, with the steep banks of Meldon Reservoir (pictured) exposed due to little rain

Reservoirs in the south west of the UK are understood to be less than half full, with the steep banks of Meldon Reservoir (pictured) exposed due to little rain

Reservoirs in the south west of the UK are understood to be less than half full, with the steep banks of Meldon Reservoir (pictured) exposed due to little rain

A view of Greenwich Park on Sunday looking back towards the Royal Observatory in London as the grass is seen nearby parched

A view of Greenwich Park on Sunday looking back towards the Royal Observatory in London as the grass is seen nearby parched

A view of Greenwich Park on Sunday looking back towards the Royal Observatory in London as the grass is seen nearby parched 

People walk over dried out ground in St James's Park on Sunday, following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall, in London

People walk over dried out ground in St James's Park on Sunday, following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall, in London

People walk over dried out ground in St James’s Park on Sunday, following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall, in London

A view of people out enjoying the sun and having picnics in Greenwich Park, London, on Sunday. The view is looking back towards Queen's House

A view of people out enjoying the sun and having picnics in Greenwich Park, London, on Sunday. The view is looking back towards Queen's House

A view of people out enjoying the sun and having picnics in Greenwich Park, London, on Sunday. The view is looking back towards Queen’s House

Two chairs and an umbrella sit vacant on the burnt grass next to the Royal Crescent, Bath, on Sunday amid calls for a hosepipe ban

Two chairs and an umbrella sit vacant on the burnt grass next to the Royal Crescent, Bath, on Sunday amid calls for a hosepipe ban

Two chairs and an umbrella sit vacant on the burnt grass next to the Royal Crescent, Bath, on Sunday amid calls for a hosepipe ban

View from the air of the parched fields surrounding the village of Uploders, near Bridport in Dorset on Sunday, where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought conditions

View from the air of the parched fields surrounding the village of Uploders, near Bridport in Dorset on Sunday, where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought conditions

View from the air of the parched fields surrounding the village of Uploders, near Bridport in Dorset on Sunday, where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought conditions

Temperatures will climb from highs of 29C today to 30C on Tuesday and 32C on Wednesday, with a 40 per cent chance of highs of 35 degrees of more. A Met Office spokesman said: ‘The whole of England and Wales looks entirely dry and increasingly hot and sunny. 

There is not going to be any rain in England and Wales until at least next Monday and even then, it’s uncertain given it’s a week away. 

‘If we do see a change to something a little bit wetter, it’s unlikely to be widespread rain. It’s more likely to be showers, so hit and miss. But it will be at least a whole week of no rain.’

The combination of high temperatures and low rainfall is impacting water levels in reservoirs and campaigners say not enough is being done to ensure households do not run out of water. 

Feargal Sharkey, the singer turned environmentalist, demanded Mr Eustice does more and enforce a full hosepipe ban across the country.

‘I will be really surprised if there’s not a hosepipe ban throughout the whole of England within two weeks,’ he said. 

‘If there is another dry winter, like last year, London is faced with the prospect of people at standpipes collecting water.

‘That’s how precarious the whole water supply has become.’ 

In the first public intervention from the Government, Mr Eustice called on more water companies to ban hosepipes to protect supplies. 

‘Water companies across the country have rightly taken action to mitigate the effects of this prolonged dry weather using the tools available,’ he wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.

 ‘I strongly urge others to do the same.’ On Friday, Southern Water became the first to impose a hosepipe ban for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight.

If the situation deteriorates, households will have to collect water from tankers in the street. 

South East Water will enforce a hosepipe ban from Friday for customers in Kent and Sussex, and Welsh Water has also announced a ban for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire later this month. 

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