Hillingdon may face drought and water restrictions despite wet weather

Hillingdon could face drought and water restrictions this year, bosses have warned.

The “risk of drought and water restrictions in 2018 is increasing”, Affinity Water has said. The company began issuing the warnings in late November, suggesting customers have short showers, rather than baths and stop running water while brushing their teeth.

It remains to be seen whether the recent weeks of wet weather will help to avert the risk of restrictions significantly but officials have already suggested not.

Affinity Water said in a statement: “Even with the wet December, recharge of the aquifers was, in some areas, only 24% of the long-term average. This is because the soil was so dry, following below average rainfall in October and November, that most of the water did not reach the aquifer.”

Affinity Water said it provides on average 900 million litres of water each day to a population of more than 3.6 million people in the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon and parts of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, and parts of the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Enfield.
It said: “Aquifers only fill up from rainfall during autumn and winter, when there is less plant growth and evaporation. October to March is the critical recharge period when rainfall is expected to reach the aquifers (porous rock where groundwater is stored), which are used for 60% of Affinity Water customers.

“Now is the time of year when those water sources need to start being replenished, but the region Affinity Water serves only received a quarter of the long term average rainfall in October, considerably short of what is usually expected. This is having a noticeable impact on river flows in the communities we serve.

“Above average rainfall will be needed during this recharge period before groundwater returns to average levels.


Mike Pocock, Director of Asset Strategy at Affinity Water said: “Like all water companies, we depend on winter rainfall to supply our customers. With our water resources at below average levels, we are continuing to ask our customers to help by saving water, which can make a real difference.

“We are constantly managing the water we have, whether it’s investing in new resources, installing new pipelines to move water around our network and finding and fixing leaks as quickly as possible.

“However, the weather remains one thing we cannot control, which is why we keep our water efficiency activities and messaging going year-round to remind people that water is a precious resource - whatever the weather.”

Affinity Water is continuing to ask its customers to “use water wisely” through its Keep Track of the Tap campaign, which has been running throughout the summer via this link www.affinitywater.co.uk/savewater

Affinity Water had these recommednations for savign water:

  • Shorten your shower – take a 4-minute shower instead of a bath – you will save around 50 litres
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, and save over 6,500 litres of water a year and encourage others in your household to do the same
  • Don’t overfill the bath – if you do fancy a bath try and use less water in it – it is easy to save over 30 litres each time
  • Only run your washing machine and dishwasher with a full load – this uses less water than two half loads
  • Whenever you can, use the half flush button if you have a dual flush toilet
  • A cistern displacement device can save one litre per flush, saving up to 5,000 litres a year. 

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