Southern Water seek drought permit after reservoir levels drop significantly
A water company has applied for a drought permit amid flood alerts and following days of heavy rain.
Southern Water said ‘exceptionally low rainfall’ has prompted its decision to ask the Environment Agency for permission to pump water from Kent rivers to top up Bewl Water reservoir near Tunbridge Wells.
It comes as five flood alerts are in force in the county, some of which warn of rising river levels in Maidstone and Eden Brook after heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Environment Agency.
It has been consistently wet in the area near Bewl over the last week, the Met Office said.
There was 11.2mm of rain in 24 hours on December 29 according to weather station data collected near Bewl, a spokeswoman said.
There was another 10.4mm on December 30, 8.8mm on December 31, 6.2mm on Monday, 10mm on Tuesday and 9.2mm on Thursday.
On its website, Southern Water said: ‘Following exceptionally low rainfall during winter 2016-17 and during October and November 2017, Bewl currently holds less than 43% of its maximum 31,000 million litres capacity.
Bewl Water was at 38% capacity on December 28 after a dry winter where there was only 77% rainfall, according to the latest published records.
This would be a short-term measure with water taken in the winter to have less of an environmental impact.
Showers were anticipated across Kent on Friday but the rain is expected to die down towards the weekend when it is due to turn colder, a Met Office spokeswoman said.