By Rebecca Hele
Southern Water along with seven other firms have sanctioned the ban after two unusually dry winters left reservoirs, aquifers and rivers below normal levels.
The water company supplies water to Brighton, Chichester and other surrounding areas.
A ban on hosepipes means they cannot be used on gardens, plants, cars or boats for “recreational use”; to fill or maintain ponds, pools or fountains; and to clean paths, walls, windows or other artificial outdoor surfaces.
One of South East Water’s key reservoirs at Ardingly, West Sussex, is still only at 49% capacity, while Bewl Reservoir, in Kent, from which the Company takes a share of water, is at 42% capacity.
Meanwhile, vital groundwater sources – which provide 75% of all customers’ supplies – are at moderate or severely low levels, with some reaching their lowest-ever recorded levels.
Paul Butler, Managing Director of South East Water, said: “The restrictions are a regrettable, but necessary, step to protect supplies for the coming months for essential use of water by our customers for drinking, washing and cooking and to minimise the impact on the water environment.
“If the situation does not significantly improve, then we may have to remove any initial concessions, and introduce wider restrictions, to protect both customers’ water supplies and the environment from which we take that water.
People in breach of these terms risk being prosecuted and fined up to £1,000. Watering cans and buckets are still allowed.
Customers have until 29th March to respond to these restrictions and then South East water will make its final decision before it comes into force on 5th April.