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Heatwave putting pressure on UK’s water supplies

2:36 am, 14th July 2018

A hosepipe ban was introduced in Northern Ireland two weeks ago. And if the lack of significant rainfall persists, parts of England may follow suit.

United Utilities is already having to move water around the North West to maintain supplies. It’s urging customers to be responsible.

Talking on the banks of the Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton, Helen Apps from United Utilities told Sky News: “Some of our reservoirs are looking more dramatic than usual, some are lower than we would expect for the time of year, but it’s not surprising given the hot weather.

“The high demand can cause problems in terms of getting water out to people fast enough.

“We have been asking people to use water more wisely and we think customers have been reducing their usage, but it is at high levels.

“We are still asking people to use water wisely.

“We haven’t needed to put any restrictions in yet, but we monitor it on a day-by-day basis. We do need rain, but we are able to move water around the region so we can help those reservoirs which are looking a little low.”

The area has also been hit by needing to supply the emergency services with water for the moorland fires, but they have used sources of water that wouldn’t usually go through the drinking water system.

She added that any restrictions would need to go through a legal process for about two to three weeks before they would be applied to residential customers, not businesses.

Just a mile away from the reservoir, the Edgworth Bowling Club’s crown green is still green, but only just.

Club chairman Mike Williams says he hopes that if restrictions are imposed, sports facilities like tennis, cricket, and of course bowls clubs, will be exempt.

“We are watering the green most days, sometimes twice a day,” he says.

“But we are trying to do it responsibly and with as little wastage as possible. We know water is getting scarce.”

Just down the road, the battle is lost. Members at Dobbies Sports and Social Club in Radcliffe are now playing on a crown brown.

Barrie Hardman says: “The drainage here is designed to cope with the high rainfall we usually get, so watering it when it’s so parched has virtually no effect.

“So, because we felt it was a waste of water, we’ve stopped watering now and are just praying for rain.”

Rain is forecast for the coming days. But not for everyone.

Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern told Sky News: “The signs are that we will see an increased chance of showers or even thunderstorms over the next seven days.

“But of course, showers and thunderstorms are notoriously hit and miss and that means some areas will see quite a deluge of rainfall but others could miss out entirely.

“So it’s not a guarantee that everyone’s gardens will be watered over the next week or so.”

Until the rain comes, the advice from the water companies, and the environment agency, remains the same. Use water sparingly and sensibly, if you want to avoid restrictions being put in place.