Predicted wet April won’t prevent Anglian Water hosepipe ban

Weather forecasters have suggested East Anglia could be heading for a wet April – but warned it would not be enough to replenish supplies during the first month of domestic water restrictions.

Anglia Water will enforce its first hosepipe ban for 20 years tomorrow (Thursday) after the driest 18-month period on record created severe shortages in groundwater, rivers and reservoirs.

The company said the arrival of rain on the day before the restrictions are due to be implemented did not undermine the urgent need for water-saving measures to be introduced.

Chris Bell a forecaster at Norwich-based Weatherquest, said: 'The interesting thing is that it looks quite unsettled next week, and possibly the week after that as well, so it might seem funny that the hosepipe ban has come in at a time when rain is falling.

'I wouldn't be surprised if April had an above-average month for rainfall. But we have had below-average rainfall since last spring, so it is going to take a couple of above-average months if things are to get back to normal.

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'At some point, it will turn a corner, but whether this is the start of that, we don't know. But it will take more than one or two rain events to correct the problem.'

Anglian Water managing director Peter Simpson said: 'The fact is that it simply has not rained anywhere near enough.

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'We cannot know how much rain the rest of the year will bring and that's why we believe a domestic hosepipe ban now is the most sensible and responsible action to take to help safeguard customer supplies for this year, next year and beyond.'

Mr Bell said the weather prospects for the Easter weekend were unlikely to excite gardeners and day-trippers.

'During the Bank Holiday weekend, we are not going to have heavy rain like we are getting now (Wednesday), but it still looks fairly cool and rather cloudy, so we might have a few spots of rain,' he said. 'It is not going to be a heatwave, and we won't see the sunny weather and 20-degree temperatures like we saw last week. It is kind of what you would expect of a typical Easter weekend.

'The farmers will be happy if the weather is wetter and cooler, but the people going on holiday might be upset that we don't get the sunshine we had last week.'

Anyone hoping to spend the Easter weekend in the garden will need to observe the restrictions on the use of hosepipes for watering domestic lawns and plants, although they will be able to use buckets and watering cans.

AW has teamed up with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to launch The Potting Shed, a water-saving resource for gardeners. A free pack can be ordered at which contains water-storing crystals, absorbent matting for baskets and planters and a guide to drought-tolerant plants.

?Water saving tips from the RHS include:

?Grow drought-tolerant plants that don't need as much help to survive.

?Use water butts to collect rainwater and watch forecasts to see if the weather can water the garden for you.

?Put a saucer under plant containers to stop water from running away.

?Use water-storing crystals to help hanging baskets retain moisture.

?Waste water from your bath, shower and kitchen is referred to as 'grey water' and can be used in gardens during the drought.

?After planting, mulch the soil with 5-7cm of gravel or a layer of compost or straw covered in gravel to retain moisture.

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