A HOSEPIPE ban could be introduced within weeks if the Island’s drought persists and water levels continue to drop, the chief executive officer of Jersey Water has warned.
Helier Smith urged Islanders to cut their consumption immediately to prevent ‘more formal measures’ being required to curb water usage, as Jersey is gripped by another heatwave this week in a year that has seen a record temperature of 37.9ºC.
The Island has also entered its second absolute drought of the summer, following less than a millimetre of rainfall in July.
Mr Smith said: ‘We’re encouraging people to be restrained and to show they’re doing their bit – by having a dirty car and a brown lawn.’
Reservoir water levels are currently 71% of capacity, he said, adding that this was much lower than usual for this time of year.
Mr Smith said: ‘During the hot weather the demand is much higher than normal, on the hottest days peaking at up to 24 million litres, so we have been using the desalination plant to meet half of that demand, but we fill our reservoirs from streams and they are drying up so the water levels are still dropping.’
The situation was being kept ‘under review’, said Mr Smith. ‘In two to four weeks if this continues we may well have to consider more formal measures to protect our water reserves for the autumn and winter – such as a hosepipe ban and restricting non-essential water use. For example, a garden sprinkler uses 1,000 litres of water per hour, which is enough to supply a family of four for two days.’
He added that the desalination plant was providing half of the Island’s needs at the moment, mixed with water from reservoirs. But it costs ‘an enormous’ £6,000 per day to operate.
Although some use of the plant as a precaution in summer is built into Jersey Water’s long-term budget, Mr Smith said any extra costs could eventually feed through to the consumer.
He said: ‘The only water we have in Jersey falls from the sky and if it doesn’t rain our reservoirs don’t refill, so that makes the desalination plant very important as an insurance policy, but the cost of the process is enormous.’
Most homes in Jersey are now on water meters, with Mr Smith advising people to cut their consumption by shortening their showers to four minutes and by taking the precautions outlined on Jersey Water’s website to ‘save water, money and the planet’.
‘The weather we’re experiencing now is a taster of global warming and of shortages that lie ahead. We hope to avoid any formal restrictions on consumption but it depends on the weather and how much people can cut the demand for water over the next few weeks,’ said Mr Smith.
The Island has six reservoirs, including Val de la Mare, Queen’s Valley and Grands Vaux, with plans for a new reservoir in the long term but nothing definite yet, he said.
Guernsey Water is also reporting a similar dip in reservoir levels and urging its residents to reduce their consumption to avoid restrictions being applied first to homes then later to businesses, if necessary. Hosepipe bans are already coming into force in southern parts of England and Wales.
2003 – The last time a hosepipe ban was introduced in Jersey.
2011 – The Island faced an ‘unprecedented’ winter hosepipe ban due to dry weather, but this did not materialise.
2012 – Jersey Water warned in March that a ban could be put in place, but ‘exceptional’ rainfall in what was then the third-wettest April in 120 years prevented it.