Avoid using sprinklers in evening, gardeners urged amid high water demand

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Gardeners are being urged to avoid using sprinklers in the evening as dry weather and the lockdown continue to drive high demand for water.

The call by industry body Water UK comes after what is expected to be the driest May for England since 1896, with official figures published by the Met Office later on Monday.

Forecasters say the weekend’s sunny weather, which saw crowds of people flock to beaches and beauty spots across England ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased on Monday, will continue until midweek.

Water UK said there was no shortage of water, but everyone using more at the same time as they enjoy the sunny weather outdoors can lead to lower water pressure, which affects how well it flows out of taps.

Water companies have seen a huge rise in demand for water from households, particularly in the evenings, with use up 20% and some areas seeing peak demand of up to 40% above normal for the time of year.

The combination of lockdown, which has kept people at home, and the sunny, dry weather is pushing up demand from households using water in the garden.

If gardeners anxious to maintain lawns and flowerbeds in the dry weather can avoid using a garden sprinkler at peak demand time in the evening, it would make a big difference to water pressure, Water UK said.

Other simple steps to reduce water use include taking shorter showers, making sure the dishwasher is full and on an eco-setting before running it through, and reusing paddling pool water on the flowerbeds.

But the industry body stressed people should keep following the guidance on protecting their health during the pandemic, by making sure they wash their hands regularly.

And after a wet winter, there are good supplies of water in reservoirs and there are currently no plans for hosepipe bans in the UK, Water UK said.

Water UK chief executive Christine McGourty said: “It’s a great time to be out in the sunshine if you can, but this record sunny weather is bringing record peak demands for water.

“Just small changes through the day will make all the difference, and there are plenty more tips on staying wise about water in these unprecedented times.

“The less water we use at peak times, the less likely it is that water will be ‘under pressure’.”

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