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Water Wise

South East Water is reminding customers to be cool about using water wisely in the garden as we head towards the Bank Holiday weekend and new plants start getting thirsty.

Water resources are at their expected levels for the time of year but, traditionally, this is also when South East Water starts to see sustained, peak demands for water - first over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, and then as we head into the warmer, drier Summer months.

High demand for water is often caused by garden watering – normally it makes up six per cent of water use in the home, but on hot days can soar to 70 per cent, mainly due to garden sprinklers which use as much water in an hour as a family of six uses in a day.

That can put an increasing strain on both the environment, from where water is abstracted, and the extensive network of pipes, pumping stations and treatment works which work round the clock to meet customers’ demand for water.

Lee Dance, Head of Water Resources and Environmental for South East Water, said: “Despite the recent dry spell, our resources are at the levels we’d expect them to be, and we don’t foresee any need for hosepipe restrictions this Summer.

“Nevertheless we would still ask everyone to use water wisely in the home and garden. Water is a precious, finite resource and with the South East region designated as water stressed, balancing supply and demand is always going to require careful management to keep customers’ taps running 24 hours day.”

South East Water supplies, on average, 565 million litres of top quality drinking water every day from its 93 treatment works and via 14,500km of underground water mains, to 2.1 million customers across Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey.

But during dry, warm weather it can see customer demand for water soar to around 720 million litres of water every day.

South East Water provides a range of gardening tips on how to be water efficient on its website along with discounts on water butts at

Top tips for green fingered customers include:

Ditch the sprinkler
Avoid using a sprinkler which can use as much water in an hour as a family of six in one day. Gardeners using sprinklers must have a water meter fitted.

Lawn care
Avoid watering lawns - they can survive long periods of dry weather and will revive when a dry spell ends. Allow your grass to grow longer during dry periods and leave the clippings on the lawn.

Fit a water butt
Use a water butt to collect any rainwater – plants prefer rainwater to tap water.

Watering tips
Water during the early morning or late evening when less water evaporates and don’t waste water on well-established trees and shrubs. When watering, aim the water directly at the roots and water less frequently, but thoroughly, to encourage plants to grow deeper roots.

Apply a mulch
Apply mulch such as organic matter, plastic sheets or stone chippings to reduce soil moisture loss. Ground cover plants make the best mulches because they shade the ground and are cost effective.

Keep weeds at bay – these compete with plants for water.

Article posted on: 24 May 2011

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