With more of us at home this summer and the recent heatwave we’re seeing a record-breaking demand for water which is putting increasing strain on our network. Our dedicated team is working round the clock to keep taps flowing, but we need your help too.
In fact, this summer has resulted in record-breaking amounts of water use and at times, we’ve been pumping an additional 150 million litres of water around our network to keep up – that's equivalent to 27 million additional toilet flushes.
This increase in water use is because more of us are at home, the increase in staycations and people undertaking DIY and gardening projects.
Garden sprinklers alone use as much water in an hour as a family of six uses in a day, which contributes to an increased demand of 70% on hot days.
This extra water use puts a strain on the extensive network of pipes, pumping stations and treatment works we look after and it can lead to low pressure or a loss of water for some customers at times of peak demand such as the early evening.
Get your hands on some water saving freebies over at your partner website Save Water, Save Money.
Top tips to save water in the garden:
- Top up the paddling pool instead of refilling it every day. When you're finished, use the water on your plants and grass so none goes to waste
- Invest in a water butt for your garden and use the harvested water on your plants (they grow better with rain water and you'll save money on your water bill too)
- Remember – brown lawns bounce back
- Water your pots and hanging baskets either early in the morning or during the evening to reduce evaporation in the midday sun
- If you’re potting up or planting containers, use ones made from plastic, glazed terracotta or wood. These tend to lose less water than bare terracotta
- Bury a short length of pipe into your pot; if you water into the tube the water goes directly to the roots where the plant needs it most
- Use mulches like bark chips or gravel to retain moisture and keep weeds down
Top tips to save water in the home:
- Only use dishwashers and washing machines of full loads
- Take a shower instead of a bath
- If you do use a bath, use less water
- Fix dripping taps and leaky loos
Did you know?
Hoses and sprinklers can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour – as much as a family of six uses in a DAY. Use a watering can instead to save water and cash.
Why are you asking us to use less water?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began our key workers have been continuing to work 24/7 to ensure top quality water continues to flow to everyone’s taps.
However, with the recent hot weather we have seen huge changes to the way water is used and with everyone staying home it means we are seeing an increase in water demand in our area. The amount of water used has been record-breaking, we’ve been pumping an additional 150 million litres through the network to keep up with demand.
Sadly, despite all out best efforts to treat and pump all this extra water to homes demand has been outstripping supply and some have been experiencing low water pressure or no water at times, especially during the evening.
We would like to reassure you that our dedicated key worker teams are continuing to work around the clock to look after the water network and keep water flowing to everyone.
Are you arranging alternate water supplies for customers?
We will set up bottled water stations in areas if water supply is interrupted for a long period. These have been carefully designed to take into account social distancing rules as part of COVID-19, it is essential all customers adhere to the guidance at these stations if they are needed. We will also draft in water tankers where necessary to help support demand.
If we have any concerns that water supplies to our vulnerable customers may be lost we are trying to proactively deliver bottled water to those who have signed up to our Priority Services Register.
Some people are vulnerable and self-isolating, what are you doing to help them?
We’ll be continuing to deliver bottled water to our most vulnerable customers. Vulnerable customers can sign up to our Priority Services Register.
How long is this likely to go on for?
Although we don’t have an exact timeline, our dedicated incident team is working around the clock to protect tap water supplies across the region. We have been redirecting water around our network to ensure we keep up with the demand for water. But it’s important we also focus on encouraging water efficiency at this time to reduce demand for water to allow our storage tanks to sufficiently refill. There is enough water for everyone, we just need to ensure it is used wisely.
How many people are likely to be affected?
This is difficult to say at this stage and will depend on demand levels in each area. We are working hard to reduce the impact and most people will not see any difference to our level of service. On Thursday evening a large area of Tunbridge Wells had low pressure or no water for a few hours.
Which areas do you expect will be impacted the most?
This will vary but there are parts of Kent and Sussex where no water or low pressure will be felt mainly in the evening. We’re focusing our efforts there to ensure we are prepared if bottled water stations are required and encouraging water use reductions across our region.
What can we do to help?
You can help us decrease demand for water by sharing our water-saving tips and messaging.
To ensure there is enough water for everyone, we ask everyone to think about how they’re using water both in the home and in the garden.
Try our easy 3 point water use checklist for summer 2020:
Washing hands ✅
Dirty cars ✅
Brown lawns ✅
Our key workers will be working around the clock this summer making sure you have plenty of tap water for your community and so you can wash hands and rehydrate if you enjoy a summer tipple.
There was a prolonged spell of hot dry weather in 2018, have you not learnt your lessons since then? What mitigation have you put in place?
We learned lots from the heatwave in 2018 and we managed that period well. We have implemented a lot of the actions and this is helping us reduce the impact now. However, we have not faced a situation like this in with everyone working from home and staycations in August.
Are we at risk of having a hosepipe/temporary use ban?
We are asking everyone not to use hosepipes, sprinklers and jet washers – but this is not a ban. We hope people will support this to help their community during this heatwave spell. Our aquifers and reservoirs are in a good position this summer due to the high levels of winter rainfall. The issue is extracting, treating and pumping the level of water needed to customers as and when they want it. We know from previous heatwaves our customers are very supportive when we ask them to just be a little more careful with water use during hot spells. Small steps such as ensuring you re-use paddling pool water when it comes time to empty it, or leaving your car washing until the weather is cooler are easy ways to help make the best use of our top quality tap water.
What happens if you have a big burst, do you have enough resources to fix it?
We’re continuing to work around the clock to repair burst water mains and to find and fix leaks. Customers can still report leaks and bursts to us by using our interactive map.
Should people still be washing hands regularly?
Absolutely, washing hands is vital to supressing the spread of COVID-19. Everyone can maintain their normal hygiene while using water wisely.