Reservoirs not filled after recent rain

WATER companies in East Anglia have said that levels in reservoirs and rivers have not been fully replenished despite the recent downpours of rain.Their revelations came after the Environment Agency warned yesterday that there would be serious water shortages in England and Wales next year unless there is significant rainfall over the winter months.

WATER companies in East Anglia have said that levels in reservoirs and rivers have not been fully replenished despite the recent downpours of rain.

Their revelations came after the Environment Agency warned yesterday that there would be serious water shortages in England and Wales next year unless there is significant rainfall over the winter months.

Six water companies across the country have already initiated drought management plans to ensure supplies to customers remain unaffected.

The Environment Agency says the situation will not improve unless there is 120% of the average rainfall between now and next April.


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Vanessa Hart, a spokesperson for Essex and Suffolk Water, said yesterday : "We have seen high temperatures, low rainfall and high demand.

"Essex relies on surface water sources from the two main reservoirs at Abberton and Hanningfield. They are about 55% full at the moment, which is below average.

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"However it is not a cause of concern and we are continually monitoring the situation on a week by week basis. South Suffolk relies on boreholes and their groundwater levels are around average so there is no cause for concern there.

She added: "We are not complacent but we are not in a position to bring into force our contingency plans. People still need to use water wisely and we are doing everything we can from the point of view of supply, reducing leakage and increasing resources.

"Through the winter that rainfall would normally take place at the end of October or November so the replenishment is happening later this year."

Martin Henderson, head of operations at Tendring Hundred Water, said the boreholes had "survived previous droughts."

He added: "The rest of the water we get is from Ardleigh reservoir. It is healthy at the moment and as it is small it is not normally difficult to refill it. It is about 83% full at the moment, which is higher than others.

"We are not anticipating any problems in 2004, judged on what's happened before, so we are in a fortunate position. We are not expecting any need to put restrictions on customers."

Gareth Rondel, a spokesman for Anglian Water, said: "The winter rainfall helps to recharge the reservoirs and aquifers. We think that an average rainfall for us will be ok but everyone has to be cautious and use water wisely through the winter as well as summer months.

"We do have drought management plans written but we are not considering putting them into practice.

"The reservoir levels are slightly below average for this time of the year and the aquifers are healthy due to a series of wet winters."

Barbara Young, the Environment Agency's chief executive, said: "We should not become complacent just because we have had heavy rainfall in the last few days.

"England and Wales has had an exceptionally dry summer and autumn and while water supplies have provided us throughout this period and supplies are secure for the coming winter, unless we receive higher than average rainfall between now and March we could be faced with water restrictions and serious water shortages in 2004."

Among the agency's tips for saving water are to replace worn tap washers to prevent dripping, use the minimum amount of water for boiling kettles and saucepans, select half-load programmes on dishwashers and washing machines wherever possible, and wash vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap.

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