Update: Anglian Water confirms hosepipe ban from April 5

Anglian Water has announced it will introduce a hosepipe ban for its domestic consumers, starting from April 5.

The ban, the first to be implemented in the region for 20 years, will be enforced to combat the effects of an increasingly severe drought, following the driest 18-month period in more than a century.

Anglian Water (AW) is one of seven water companies preparing to bring in restrictions in the wake of two unusually dry winters which have left reservoirs, aquifers and rivers well below normal levels.

The terms of the temporary ban, which begins on the Thursday before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, still allows customers to water their gardens if they use a watering can rather than a hose, and to clean their cars, provided they use a bucket.

Business users are not affected, and there will be a small number of domestic exemptions to protect jobs, livelihoods and the infirm.

AW managing director Peter Simpson said: 'This is the first time Anglian Water has imposed a hosepipe ban in more than 20 years, but we believe this is the most sensible and responsible action to take to help safeguard customer supplies for this year, next year and beyond.

'Our region has had its driest 18 months for a century, including two dry winters which have robbed us of the rainfall we need to refill rivers, reservoirs and aquifers.

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'In addition to the hosepipe ban, we are asking our 4.2 million customers to help us save water at home, at work and in the garden.'

Across the country, it is estimated that up to 20 million homes face hosepipe bans in the coming weeks. Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are also taking measures to preserve supplies in the parched South East and East Anglia regions.

AW warned last week that the spell of rainy weather would not be enough to stave off the effects of drought in the East of England after 18 months of below-average rainfall.

Spokesman Ciaran Nelson, said: 'It's going to take a lot more than a few wet days to get us back to our target position for this time of year.

'We're dealing with the impact of two consecutive dry winters, with the months in between also suffering from below average rainfall. To recover from a situation like this will take months of persistent rain.

'A few wet days, while welcome, won't do much to change the underlying situation.'

Mr Nelson added that Anglian Water had been working hard to get water to where it was needed across the East of England, and again encouraged customers to help by saving water where possible.

That includes water-saving measures for summer, including fitting water butts to collect rainwater and choosing drought-tolerant plants for the garden.

Meanwhile Essex and Suffolk Water, which provides services to thousands of homes in South Norfolk and Suffolk, has confirmed it has no immediate plans to issue a ban, but has urged customers to help them save water. The company has not ruled out restrictions later in the year if the dry weather continues into the spring and summer.

?How will water restrictions affect your home, garden, or business? Contact chris.hill@archant.co.uk.

?For full story, see tomorrow's papers.