Lincolnshire drought: Anglian Water says underground aquifers are still at low levels
Lincolnshire is still in drought, despite one of the wettest Aprils on record. The hosepipe ban still applies and we are being asked to be frugal with water usage while rain continues to fall almost daily. So why are we still in this crisis and what impact has it had on people? Reporter James Dunn tried to find out
ANGLIAN Water has warned people not to let heavy rain "mask the hidden drought" as hosepipe bans remain in force.
The first hosepipe ban in 20 years came into force on April 5 after the driest 18 months in a century.
However, record rainfall in April allowed water companies to lift hosepipe bans in some parts of the country – but local supplier Anglian Water's ban is still in place.
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The Environment Agency has now divided drought types into two categories and while many areas were downgraded to the less serious type on Friday – with drought conditions lifted in many areas of the country – North East Lincolnshire is still in a temporary use ban drought – the most serious of the two.
The ban remains despite the extreme weather conditions in April, which saw record levels of rainfall and a washout start to the tourist season.
Melanie Wood, director of Pleasure Island, in Cleethorpes, described rainfall as "continuous and heavy" and described it as "the worst start to the season" since opening 20 years ago.
The area's nearest reservoir at Covenham is now at levels of 95 per cent after the rain, however, Anglian Water says that we will need at least three more months like April before we are out of the drought.
A spokesman said: "We've got to be careful not to let the recent rainfall mask the 'hidden drought' that still exists in our groundwater stores – the aquifers that supply about 50 per cent of all the water that our customers use.
"These aquifers are still notably low and it takes longer for them to be affected by drought, but it also takes longer for them to recover when it rains – many months, in some cases.
"The irony of having a hosepipe ban in place while it's throwing it down isn't lost on us.
"We have had the wettest April on record so reservoirs such as Covenham may look full, but April's rainfall follows the driest March since 1953, at the end of the driest 18 months in a century."
Anglian also expects demand for water to rise in the summer.
"When the rain stops and things warm up with the onset of summer, we expect demand for water to rise, and we're going to need to do all we can to conserve the water that is in the environment," the spokesman added.
The ban applies to individuals, but not businesses such as farms that rely on the water supply, although the local authorities have also been banned from using hosepipes for grounds maintenance.
However, North East Lincolnshire Council's parks and open spaces manager Alan Fletcher said that the grounds have not suffered as a result.
"We try to do what we can to use sustainable water sources as it is and there has been plenty of rain over the past month," he said.
He also advised residents to use manure and compost, which retains water in your garden, and reuse water wherever possible.