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March12 2012.

South East Water has announced that it will impose water-use restrictions on customers in April, to combat the effects of the increasingly severe drought, following two abnormally dry winters.

South East Water will be introducing temporary water restrictions across its supply area from April 5th 2012. Customers will be prohibited from using hosepipes for watering their gardens, washing cars, patios and boats and from filling swimming and paddling pools, ponds and fountains.

Customers have until 29th March 2012 to respond to the proposed restrictions. South East Water will then consider these responses before the restrictions come into force on 5th April.

This decision comes after one of the driest two-year periods since records began. It follows the announcement on 20th February by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman that the South East of England, as well as parts of the East Midlands and Eastern England, are all officially in drought.

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.

South East Water has been running publicity campaigns to alert its customers to the drought situation and asking them to help conserve water supplies as well as offering households free gadgets, such as save-a-flush bags and four-minute shower timers to encourage everyone to use water wisely at this critical time.

South East Water is closely following its drought plan and working hard to help reduce demand for water and is itself committed to reducing leakage. It spends £13million every year on finding and repairing leaks and is spending an extra £400,000 by recruiting another 10 "leak busters" to bring the leak detection team up to a 50-strong force. It is also planning a summer of communications activities to provide water saving advice across its supply area.

Anyone who spots a water leak can contact South East Water's leak line on 0333 000 3330 or register the details on and use the interactive map.

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.

"We do not take the introduction of these restrictions lightly and are keen to work with those affected to help make the impact as minimal as possible - but we must all do our bit to save water.

"During the last drought, in 2005 and 2006, our customers responded incredibly well to the temporary hosepipe ban. We are very grateful for the efforts our customers have made already to save water, but would ask them to carry on their good work during these necessary temporary restrictions."

Howard Davidson, Environment Agency South East Regional Director, said: "We will continue to work with water companies to meet the challenges of a continued drought. We will be watching to ensure water companies follow their drought plans, and expect them to demonstrate they are doing everything possible to reduce water demand including stepping up their publicity campaigns.

"The Environment Agency's role is to balance the water needs of people, businesses and the environment. Using water efficiently will help to ensure we all have enough water for our homes, to produce food, products and services, and to protect our valuable natural environment and wildlife."

Temporary Use Bans (TUBs) are imposed by a water supplier under Section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

For specific detail on the terms of the Temporary Use Bans, including the exemptions that will apply, visit or call 03330 000 017.