Thames Water boss admits firm is failing on leaks but says households should use LESS water

Thames Water boss admits firm is failing on leaks but says households should use LESS water

Thames Water boss admits firm is failing on leaks but says households should use LESS water to tackle the issue – as residents in Britain’s driest village say they’ve been suffering problems for YEARS

  • Tinderbox Britain is facing ‘lethally hot’ temperatures this week with mercury set to reach 93F in south
  • The Met Office said temperatures likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts of the UK 
  • Oxfordshire village has become the first in Britain to run dry – with residents forced to rely on delivered water 
  • Northend, on Buckinghamshire border, usually gets its water from the now dried-up Stokenchurch Reservoir 
  • Meanwhile, a Thames Water boss said England needs to follow Germany and Denmark in using less water 

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The boss of Thames Water has admitted the firm is failing on leaks, but has urged households to use less water to fix the issue – as residents in the UK’s driest village today said they have been suffering problems for years.

Tinderbox Britain faced ‘lethally hot’ temperatures today with the mercury reaching 93F (33C) in southern parts of England as firefighters battled fires across the country.

And millions more people are facing a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks, Thames Water said today, with the Met Office issuing an amber extreme heat warning for the next four days.

Cathryn Ross, strategy and regulatory affairs director at Thames Water, today admitted the firm ‘needs to do better at fixing leaks’ amid accusations of hypocrisy over imposing a hosepipe ban when it is losing 600 million litres of water every day through its pipes.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We do hear what people say about leaks and it is really important that we do our bit. If we are asking our people right the way across the region to do use water wisely, we need to do that, too. 

‘Leaks are endemic. We have 20,000 miles of pipe, so we are not going to be able to completely eradicate leaking.’ .

She added: ‘We have a lot of work to do to fix Thames Water and we accept that we are not where we need to be.’

And asked whether the water firm is planning ahead for similarly dry summers in future years, Ms Ross said England needs to follow Germany and Denmark in using less water per person.

She said: ‘It means demand management, it means becoming more water efficient. We use 150 litres of water per person per day in England.

‘In Germany it is 20 litres and in Copenhagen, where they have had a big push on this, it is down to nearly 100 litres per person per day. There’s loads more we can do. We also need more storage, we also need to look at pipes. It is a multi-pronged approach.’

Her comments come as an Oxfordshire village has become the first in Britain to run dry, with residents forced to rely on deliveries of bottled and tanker water from Thames Water.

A tanker from Thames Water pumps water into another tanker in the village of Northend in Oxfordshire earlier today following a technical issue at the local reservoir

Cathryn Ross, strategy and regulatory affairs director at Thames Water, today urged England to follow Germany and Denmark in using less water per person per day in order to combat shortages - despite the firm losing 600 million litres every day through leaks in its pipes

Cathryn Ross, strategy and regulatory affairs director at Thames Water, today urged England to follow Germany and Denmark in using less water per person per day in order to combat shortages – despite the firm losing 600 million litres every day through leaks in its pipes

Villagers Catherine Yoxall and Carolyn Evans say issues with water in the village stretch back to 2018 as they were today handed bottles

Villagers Catherine Yoxall and Carolyn Evans say issues with water in the village stretch back to 2018 as they were today handed bottles

Bottles of water supplied by Thames Water for residents of the village today, where it is pumping water into the supply network

Bottles of water supplied by Thames Water for residents of the village today, where it is pumping water into the supply network

Carolyn Evans (right) speaks with a Thames Water employee carrying out work in the Oxfordshire village today amid another UK heatwave

Carolyn Evans (right) speaks with a Thames Water employee carrying out work in the Oxfordshire village today amid another UK heatwave

Locals in Northend near Watlington, on the Buckinghamshire-Oxfordshire border, have had to put up with a large, noisy tanker from the company which is parked opposite the village green.

The tanker increases the water pressure to the around 40 homes so people can occasionally have showers and flush the loo.

The village is ordinarily supplied by the Stokenchurch Reservoir, but it has dried up during the heatwave.

However, and locals say they have been experiencing problems since 2018.

Catherine Yoxall said: ‘This has been going on for four years off and on. My children can’t have showers and we have to use bottle water to flush the loo.

‘We can’t use the dishwasher, the washing machine. It is not good. There are people in the village with babies and it is not good for them.

‘Sometimes it is worse than others. This summer they are blaming it on the weather, but I think it is nothing to do with that. I think it is an infrastructure problem. I know we are at the top of the hill, but so are a lot of other people.

‘We are having so many leaks and they are discharging sewage into the river that we swim in. We are paying for a service that is not cheap.

‘The weird thing is that Thames Water give everyone a different answer. Eight of us can ring and eight of us can be told a different thing. There is no consistency. They are not investigating because they are giving so much money back to the shareholders and in bonuses.’

Catherine, who has the tanker parked outside her home, added: ‘It is noisy but I am delighted the tanker is here so we can have a shower.’

Another local Carolyn Evans, in her 70s, said today: ‘We are fed up. This has been going on since 2018 – every summer. This year is the worst because the weather has been so dry.

‘When the tanker comes we all rush and have showers and then it diminishes again and we get a tanker again.

‘The infrastructure needs improving. I am one of the four oldest people in the village and I have been carrying water bottles backwards and forwards. The Thames Water chaps who come with the tanker are wonderful. One came out of retirement to help.

‘The problem is the people who run Thames Water are getting enormous bonuses, but are not providing the service they should.’

And Glynis Langford, a 65-year-old farmer, said: ‘We had a meeting in 2018 with Thames Water officials to deal with it. Nothing has been sorted. It is the same every year.’

Alice Nuttgens, in her early 60s, said: ‘We are in the Chilterns, which is chalky and our suspicion is that there are leaks that have not been dealt with and the water just runs away. No matter how much we report, we are not getting anywhere with Thames Water. We have no response at all, only excuses.

‘We need to get pressure on Thames Water from all quarters to get our water pressure.’

Meanwhile, Thames Water spokesperson said: ‘We’re sorry to customers in the Stokenchurch area who are experiencing lower pressure than normal due to technical issues with our Stokenchurch reservoir. We have a team on site working hard to resolve this as soon as possible and the situation is improving and supplies have been restored to customers.

‘We’re using tankers to help boost supplies to customers in Northend to keep up water pressures for these customers so they do not see supply issues as well as delivering water bottles.

‘Customers may experience lower than normal pressure during periods of higher demand. These times are typically in the morning and during the early evening.

‘We’ve also identified everyone in the affected area who has pre-registered with us as having special requirements, such as being medically reliant on water, so we can get in touch and make sure we give them the help and support they need.

‘We realise how inconvenient this is, especially during such hot weather, and appreciate customers’ patience as we work to resolve things.’

‘We’ve also hand delivered bottled water to customers on our priority services register.

The UK’s Health and Security Agency has put Britain on a level three heat-health alert, while the AA has warned the searing heat could cause tyres to blow out on the motorways.

The Met Office has warned that the elderly, infirm and very young could suffer adverse health effects, delays to travel are possible and there is an increased risk of water accidents and fires as sunseekers head to tourist spots.

Britain has been told to brace for a sweltering heatwave this week as a Level 3 Heat Health Alert also came into effect yesterday and has been extended until Saturday – with little rain expected to help relieve the threat of drought which has prompted hosepipe bans and fire warnings. 

Nearly 50 firefighters have been battling a huge ‘tinderbox’ blaze to stop it spreading to the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk while the London Fire Brigade has been out overnight, battling grass fires across the capital.

Pictured: Sunseekers headed to Bournemouth beach on Wednesday to make the most of the sizzling temperatures

Pictured: Sunseekers headed to Bournemouth beach on Wednesday to make the most of the sizzling temperatures 

Tinderbox Britain is facing 'lethally hot' temperatures today with the mercury set to reach 93F today in southern parts of England - as millions more people face a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks

Tinderbox Britain is facing ‘lethally hot’ temperatures today with the mercury set to reach 93F today in southern parts of England – as millions more people face a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks

Pictured: A raging wildfire broke out near a busy road in Herefordshire, just off from Chesham Road in Berkhamsted

Pictured: A raging wildfire broke out near a busy road in Herefordshire, just off from Chesham Road in Berkhamsted

Pictured: Hundreds of water bottles are placed in the shade ready to be given to local residents in the village of Northend, Oxfordshire, which has run out of water

Pictured: Hundreds of water bottles are placed in the shade ready to be given to local residents in the village of Northend, Oxfordshire, which has run out of water

Pictured: Thames Water workers deliver bottled water the residents of the sleepy, picturesque village of Northend after it ran out of water on Tuesday

Pictured: Thames Water workers deliver bottled water the residents of the sleepy, picturesque village of Northend after it ran out of water on Tuesday 

Pictured: A Thames Water tanker filled up the water supplies in the Oxfordshire village of Northend on Tuesday afternoon

Pictured: A Thames Water tanker filled up the water supplies in the Oxfordshire village of Northend on Tuesday afternoon 

Pictured: A farmer from Pimperne, near Blandford, Dorset uses a harrow to create a natural break preventing the spread of flames in a 40 acre field

Pictured: A farmer from Pimperne, near Blandford, Dorset uses a harrow to create a natural break preventing the spread of flames in a 40 acre field

A man walks his dog along a sun-bleached pathway in Richmond Park on Tuesday, as heat warnings are extended

A man walks his dog along a sun-bleached pathway in Richmond Park on Tuesday, as heat warnings are extended

A view of a dried up pond in the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where Thames Water is pumping water into the supply network following a technical issue at Stokenchurch Reservoir

A view of a dried up pond in the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where Thames Water is pumping water into the supply network following a technical issue at Stokenchurch Reservoir

Pictured: Sunseekers enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach on Wednesday as another heatwave hits the UK

Pictured: Sunseekers enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach on Wednesday as another heatwave hits the UK

Pictured: Britons hit Bournemouth beach on Wednesday afternoon as the temperature rises across England and Wales

Pictured: Britons hit Bournemouth beach on Wednesday afternoon as the temperature rises across England and Wales

Sunseekers are pictured on Bournemouth beach on Wednesday as the mercury set to reach 93F (33C) today in southern parts of England

Sunseekers are pictured on Bournemouth beach on Wednesday as the mercury set to reach 93F (33C) today in southern parts of England

Boy, 14, dies after getting into difficulty in a lake during scorching temperatures as Britain is hit by another heatwave 

A 14-year-old boy has died after getting into difficulty in a lake in Cheshunt during scorching temperatures.

Hertfordshire Police said officers were called to North Met Lake, off Cadmore Lane, Cheshunt, at 5pm on Monday, to reports the boy had not resurfaced after being in the water.

The youngster is one of at least seven teenage boys thought to have drowned during the hot weather this summer. 

‘Officers, the Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Service immediately attended the lake,’ the force said in a statement.

‘Emergency services carried out searches of the area, including the use of the police helicopter and specialist police divers. At just before 11pm last night a body was recovered.

‘Formal identification is yet to take place, however the boy’s next of kin have been informed.’ 

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Last night Andrew Sells, head of Natural England between 2014 and 2019, accused water companies of selling off reservoirs which could have helped ease drought to housing developers.

‘Several of our water companies preferred to build houses on some of their reservoirs, and last week we learned that together they have built precisely zero new reservoirs in the past 30 years’, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

‘No doubt some reservoirs had reached the end of their working lives, but in abandoning this infrastructure, without any replacements, they have again put short-term profits ahead of long-term supply.’

The companies which have sold off decommissioned reservoirs in recent years include Thames Water, Severn Trent and Southern Water.  

Meanwhile, nearly 50 firefighters have been battling a huge ‘tinderbox’ blaze to stop it spreading to the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

The royal estate, with the Queen’s residence at its centre, sits in 8,000 hectares (nearly 20,000 acres) of woods and heaths which, like much of the rest of Britain, have become parched in the heatwave.

The drama began when at least five fire engines and a water carrier were called shortly before 8am yesterday to the blaze in forest land just off the A149 near Sandringham.

It’s believed Sandringham has its own fire engine in case of a blaze on the royal estate.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said crews were using hoses and water jets.

And drivers are being urged to check their tyres before beginning journeys on ‘searing Saturday’. The AA warned the start of a weekend when millions of people will be making long trips to the seaside, football matches, music festivals and holidays will coincide with extreme heat.

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Pictured: Thames Water said: ‘We’re using tankers to help boost supplies to customers in Northend to keep up water pressures for these customers so they do not see supply issues as well as delivering water bottles’

The village of Northend on the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire border has been receiving aid from Thames Water (pictured today pumping a tank)

The village of Northend on the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire border has been receiving aid from Thames Water (pictured today pumping a tank)

Bottles of water supplied by Thames Water for residents of the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where the water company is pumping water into the supply network

Bottles of water supplied by Thames Water for residents of the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where the water company is pumping water into the supply network

Pictured: A worker from Thames Water delivering a temporary water supply from a tanker to the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where the water company is pumping water into the supply network following a technical issue at Stokenchurch Reservoir

Pictured: A worker from Thames Water delivering a temporary water supply from a tanker to the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where the water company is pumping water into the supply network following a technical issue at Stokenchurch Reservoir

Local residents Catherine Yoxall (left) Carolyn Evans (right) who live in the village of Northend on the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire border

Local residents Catherine Yoxall (left) Carolyn Evans (right) who live in the village of Northend on the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire border

Pictured: Reduced water levels at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex. The Met Office has issued an amber warning for extreme heat covering four days from Thursday to Sunday for parts of England and Wales

Pictured: Reduced water levels at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex. The Met Office has issued an amber warning for extreme heat covering four days from Thursday to Sunday for parts of England and Wales

Pictured: Weir Wood reservoir in East Sussex which is currently 60 per cent full amid increasing temperatures

Pictured: Weir Wood reservoir in East Sussex which is currently 60 per cent full amid increasing temperatures 

Due to the extreme hot weather in England and Wales, pea soup algae has begun to cover London's canals (pictured)

Due to the extreme hot weather in England and Wales, pea soup algae has begun to cover London’s canals (pictured)

Pictured: Bournemouth coastline was crowded with families on Wednesday amid a Level 3 Heat Health Alert

Pictured: Bournemouth coastline was crowded with families on Wednesday amid a Level 3 Heat Health Alert 

Pictured: An aerial view of people enjoying the hot weather on the beach at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside on Wednesday

Pictured: An aerial view of people enjoying the hot weather on the beach at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside on Wednesday 

Pictured: An aerial view of people enjoying the hot weather on the beach at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside today

Pictured: An aerial view of people enjoying the hot weather on the beach at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside today 

Specialised boats are currently being used on a daily basis to clear the algae, which has appeared in canals across the capital

Specialised boats are currently being used on a daily basis to clear the algae, which has appeared in canals across the capital 

As temperatures continue to rise across the UK, one Twitter user, James, shared an image showing the aftermath of a fire that had started in his village. He wrote: 'Luckily it had already been harvested but the stubble went up quick. Fire service were there blooming quickly. Building in the background is a care home. Lucky escape'

As temperatures continue to rise across the UK, one Twitter user, James, shared an image showing the aftermath of a fire that had started in his village. He wrote: ‘Luckily it had already been harvested but the stubble went up quick. Fire service were there blooming quickly. Building in the background is a care home. Lucky escape’

Essex Fire Service posted an image on Tuesday evening after a field fire near the M25 junction 26-25 at Waltham Abbey had started, leaving behind a scorched trail

Essex Fire Service posted an image on Tuesday evening after a field fire near the M25 junction 26-25 at Waltham Abbey had started, leaving behind a scorched trail

Firefighters were also called to a field fire in Southend, Essex on Tuesday. There has been suspicion that the blaze could have been deliberately started

Firefighters were also called to a field fire in Southend, Essex on Tuesday. There has been suspicion that the blaze could have been deliberately started

Martyn Read shared this image to his Twitter of a fire that had started 'just 150m from his home' in a field in Exeter

Martyn Read shared this image to his Twitter of a fire that had started ‘just 150m from his home’ in a field in Exeter 

Pictured: An aerial view of the parched fields on the clifftop at Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought condition

Pictured: An aerial view of the parched fields on the clifftop at Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought condition

Pictured: Reduced water levels at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex on Wednesday afternoon

Pictured: Reduced water levels at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex on Wednesday afternoon

Pictured: A view of bird house beside a dried up pond in the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where Thames Water is pumping water into the supply network

Pictured: A view of bird house beside a dried up pond in the village of Northend in Oxfordshire, where Thames Water is pumping water into the supply network

Source of the Thames DRIES UP for the first time: Head of the river is now more than five MILES downstream 

With parts of the UK experiencing the driest conditions since the drought of 1976, experts have warned that the source of the River Thames has dried up for the first time on record.

The source of the river was originally just outside Cirencester, according to The Rivers Trust.

However, following a continuous period of dry weather, it is now more than five miles downstream, near Somerford Keynes.

Around 6.5km upstream, residents in Ashton Keynes in North Wiltshire have revealed the area is completely dry, as half the UK population could face more hosepipe bans. 

Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Rob Collins, director of policy and science at The Rivers Trust, explained: ‘Following the prolonged dry weather, the source of the Thames in Gloucestershire has dried up, with a weak flow now only just about discernible more than 5 miles downstream (at Somerford Keynes).

‘Under our changing climate we can anticipate the frequency and severity of such periods of drought and water scarcity to intensify, with increasing competition for a dwindling resource and devastating impacts on aquatic life.’

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Temperatures are expected to peak at 35C, increasing the risk of blowouts for tyres that are inflated to the wrong pressure or already damaged.

Motorists should also consider having their vehicle’s cooling system checked by a mechanic as overheated engines are a common cause of breakdowns in hot weather, the AA said.

Sunseekers are set for sizzling heat across England and Wales today as temperatures are expected to reach 82F (28C) along the Bournemouth coastline, while Dover, Kent is predicted to reach highs of 75F (24C). Meanwhile, Aberdeen, Scotland has been forecast a balmy 73F (23C) and Whitsand Bay in Cornwall will see highs of 70F (21C).

The Met Office also predicted the extreme heat will become more commonplace in the coming years as global warming continues.

Professor Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading, said: ‘The warnings for extreme heat from both the Met Office and the heat health alert issued by the UK Health Security Agency are another reminder that this summer in the UK is proving to be lethally hot.

‘Compared to the July record-breaking heat, this event will be less intense but last longer, which could actually have a greater impact on people’s health.

‘This heatwave might not break any records for maximum temperatures, but it might actually cause more deaths.’

The hot weather led to tragedy on Monday as a 14-year-old boy has died after getting into difficulty in a lake in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.

Emergency services were called to the scene at North Met Lake, off Cadmore Lane, just after 5pm on Monday after reports that a teenager had not re-surfaced after being in the water.

They carried out searches of the area but a body was recovered just before 11pm.

Climate change is making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely, with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming and ‘virtually impossible’ without it, research shows.

Scientists also warn the likelihood of droughts occurring is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Pictured: Families are pictured at a busy Bournemouth beach on Wednesday amid the sweltering temperatures

Pictured: Families are pictured at a busy Bournemouth beach on Wednesday amid the sweltering temperatures 

Pictured: Bournemouth's coastline was pictured this morning as families arrived during the summer holiday

Pictured: Bournemouth’s coastline was pictured this morning as families arrived during the summer holiday

Pictured: Families were pictured arriving at Bournemouth beach on Wednesday morning carrying cool boxes and chairs

Pictured: Families were pictured arriving at Bournemouth beach on Wednesday morning carrying cool boxes and chairs 

Thames Water, which supplies water to 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley, became the latest water company to signal it will bring in a hosepipe ban in the face of the hot, dry summer.

The water company said: ‘Given the long-term forecast of dry weather and another forecast of very hot temperatures coming this week, we are planning to announce a temporary use ban in the coming weeks.’

It urged customers to only use what they need for their essential use.

South East Water and Southern Water have already announced hosepipe bans – after the driest first half of the year since 1976 saw south east England clocking up 144 days with little or no rain so far in 2022.

The dry conditions, combined with last month’s record-breaking heatwave, have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soils, hitting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.

The latest analysis from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) warns river flows are set to remain exceptionally low in central, southern and eastern England until October.

Groundwater levels in southern England and South Wales will be below normal and exceptionally low in some areas for the next three months, the assessment said.

Several inches of extra rain, in addition to what would normally be expected, is needed to overcome the dry conditions in parts of southern England.

There was no immediate sign of rain in the latest forecast from the Met Office.

Pictured: The sun rises above the early morning mist at Jeskyns Country park in Gravesend, Kent on Wednesday

Pictured: The sun rises above the early morning mist at Jeskyns Country park in Gravesend, Kent on Wednesday 

Sunseekers are set for sizzling heat across England and Wales today as temperatures are expected to reach 82F (28C) along the Bournemouth coastline, while Gravesend in Kent (pictured) is predicted to reach highs of 75F (24C)

Sunseekers are set for sizzling heat across England and Wales today as temperatures are expected to reach 82F (28C) along the Bournemouth coastline, while Gravesend in Kent (pictured) is predicted to reach highs of 75F (24C)

The Met Office also predicted the extreme heat will become more commonplace in the coming years as global warming continues. Pictured: Jeskyns Country park in Gravesend, Kent early this morning

The Met Office also predicted the extreme heat will become more commonplace in the coming years as global warming continues. Pictured: Jeskyns Country park in Gravesend, Kent early this morning

The Met Office has issued a four-day amber warning for extreme heat in parts of England and Wales for Thursday to Sunday, with temperatures expected to climb to 35C or even 36C in some places. Pictured: Jeskyns Country park in Gravesend, Kent early this morning

The Met Office has issued a four-day amber warning for extreme heat in parts of England and Wales for Thursday to Sunday, with temperatures expected to climb to 35C or even 36C in some places. Pictured: Jeskyns Country park in Gravesend, Kent early this morning

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Dan Rudman said: ‘With high pressure dominant this week, any showers this week will be contained to the far northwest, and even here they will be short-lived in nature.

‘Further south, which has seen little rain for some time now, it will continue dry through the week providing no relief for parched land, especially in the southeast.’

Outside the Met Office’s amber warning area, heatwave thresholds – which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country – are still likely to be met for much of the UK, with temperatures widely into the high 20s and a chance of a few spots seeing temperatures into the low 30s.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures into the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday.

As high temperatures combine with the lack of rain to leave the countryside, parks and gardens tinder-dry, households in some areas are being urged not to fires or have barbecues, and there are calls on retailers to halt the sale of disposable barbecues.

The Met Office’s fire severity index, an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach ‘exceptional’ for a swathe of England by the weekend.

As the mercury is expected to rise this week, the London Fire Brigade is warning Brits to take extra precautions to prevent wildfires breaking out across the country amid increasing temperatures.

A spokesperson said: ‘High temperatures are forecast this week and the ground is extremely dry.

‘We’re urging people to take extra care and help us prevent fires on open land this summer.

‘Make sure rubbish, especially glass, is safely thrown away and cigarettes are always properly disposed of. Grass will be tinder dry after periods of hot weather, so please don’t have barbecues in parks and public spaces.’

It comes as 10 fire engines and around 70 firefighters were called to a grass fire on Mollison Avenue in Enfield on Tuesday afternoon at around 16:30pm.

Around five hectares of grass and shrubland were damaged by the fire. There were no reports of any injuries.

The Rhine runs DRY and is set to become impassable to crucial coal barges, with Europe on course to suffer worst drought in 500 YEARS and ‘extremely violent’ wildfires ravaging France in 100F heat 

By Jack Newman for MailOnline

Germany’s most-important river is running dry as Europe suffers through a drought that is on course to become its worst in 500 years, with terrifying wildfires burning once again in France.

Water levels in the Rhine – which carries 80 per cent of all goods transported by water in Germany, from its industrial heartlands to Dutch ports – are now so low that it could become impassable to barges later this week, threatening vital supplies of oil and coal that the country is relying upon as Russia turns off the gas tap.

The Rhine is already lower than it was at the same point in 2018, when Europe suffered its last major drought. That year, the river ended up closing to goods vessels for 132 days, almost triggering a recession. Costs to transport goods by river this year have already risen five-fold as barges limit their capacity to stay afloat.

Economists estimate the disruption could knock as much as half a percentage point off Germany’s overall economic growth this year, with experts warning the country was facing recession due to an energy crisis even before the drought hit.

Andrea Toreti, senior researcher at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, said: ‘We haven’t analysed fully [this] event, but based on my experience I think that this is perhaps even more extreme than in 2018.

‘2018 was so extreme that looking back at this list of the last 500 years, there were no other events similar.’

Meanwhile wildfires are once again ripping their way across France, torching an area that was already badly-hit as temperatures soared to record levels last month.

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The Rhine river - Germany's most-important waterway - is running so low that it may soon become impassable to barges, threatening huge economic damage

The Rhine river – Germany’s most-important waterway – is running so low that it may soon become impassable to barges, threatening huge economic damage

Transport vessels cruise past the partially dried riverbed of the Rhine river in Bingen, Germany, amid the ongoing droughts

Transport vessels cruise past the partially dried riverbed of the Rhine river in Bingen, Germany, amid the ongoing droughts

Bone dry: Almost half of EU land is currently under a drought warning or worse because of a combination of heatwaves and a 'wide and persistent' lack of rain, experts have warned. A map (pictured) reveals the countries most at risk. Areas in orange are under 'warning' conditions, while 15 per cent of land has moved into the most severe 'alert' state (shown in red)

Bone dry: Almost half of EU land is currently under a drought warning or worse because of a combination of heatwaves and a ‘wide and persistent’ lack of rain, experts have warned. A map (pictured) reveals the countries most at risk. Areas in orange are under ‘warning’ conditions, while 15 per cent of land has moved into the most severe ‘alert’ state (shown in red)

House boats are perched on a drying side channel of the Waal River due to drought in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands

House boats are perched on a drying side channel of the Waal River due to drought in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands

Boat houses are seen on the banks of the Waal River in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, as Europe suffered through a drought

Boat houses are seen on the banks of the Waal River in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, as Europe suffered through a drought

Europe has seen lower-than-average rainfall for the past two months, with rivers across the continent - including in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (pictured) - running very low

Europe has seen lower-than-average rainfall for the past two months, with rivers across the continent – including in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (pictured) – running very low

The droughts are not only affecting Germany, with Spain, southern France, Portugal and most of Italy suffering from the shortages

The droughts are not only affecting Germany, with Spain, southern France, Portugal and most of Italy suffering from the shortages

Since Tuesday, the so-called Landiras blaze in Gironde – near Bordeaux – has burned 15,000 acres of pine forest and forced the evacuation of almost 6,000 people.

‘The fire is extremely violent and has spread to the Landes department’ further south, home of the Landes de Gascogne regional park, the prefecture said in a statement. Local authorities of the wine-growing Gironde department said 500 firefighters were mobilised.

The prefecture warned the fire was spreading toward the A63 motorway, a major artery linking Bordeaux to Spain.

Speed limits on the highway have been lowered to 55 mph in case smoke starts to limit visibility, and a full closure could be ordered if the fire worsens and continues to spread.

The Landiras fire that ignited in July was the largest of several that have raged this year in southwest France, which like the rest of Europe has been buffeted by record drought and a series of heat waves over the past two months.

Fires were also raging on Tuesday in other parts of the country.

One broke out in the southern departments of Lozere and Aveyron, where close to 600 hectares have already burnt and where Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is due to go later in the day.

Another fire is in the Maine et Loire department in western France, where 1,600 acres have been scorched and 500 are threatened, according to local authorities.

Meanwhile, in Germany, barges carrying iron ore from Rotterdam to steelmaking plants in Duisburg were running at less than half capacity to avoid running aground.

In some places the Rhine was so shallow that other vessels were moored far below the quays where people walk. Signs warning people about dangerously high waters stuck out of the riverbed, and rocks lay exposed.

The resulting bottlenecks are another drag on Europe’s largest economy, which is grappling with high inflation, supply chain disruptions and soaring gas prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The droughts are not only affecting Germany, with Spain, southern France, Portugal and most of Italy suffering from the shortages with ministers imposing emergency water restrictions. 

The European Drought Observatory said 15 per cent of the bloc is on red alert due to crops suffering from ‘severe water deficiency.’ 

As many as 95 French regions have brought in hosepipe bans, while 62 are at a ‘crisis level’ that only allows the use of water for essential needs.

More than 100 French towns have no running drinking water and are being supplied with special deliveries.

In Andalusia, one of Europe’s hottest and driest regions, paddle-boats and waterslides lie abandoned on the cracked bed of Vinuela reservoir which is now 87 per cent empty.

A prolonged dry spell and extreme heat made July the hottest month in Spain since at least 1961. Spanish reservoirs are at just 40 per cent of capacity on average in early August, well below the ten-year average of around 60 per cent, official data shows.

A flooded Portuguese village has reemerged from the depths with its stony foundations still intact as a result of the drought

A flooded Portuguese village has reemerged from the depths with its stony foundations still intact as a result of the drought

An aerial view of the people on a boat between the partially flooded village Vilarinho da Furna during the summer season

An aerial view of the people on a boat between the partially flooded village Vilarinho da Furna during the summer season

People walk arround the remains of the church of Sant Roma de Sau as it emerges from the low waters of the Sau Reservoir, north of Barcelona, Spain

People walk arround the remains of the church of Sant Roma de Sau as it emerges from the low waters of the Sau Reservoir, north of Barcelona, Spain

A sheep drinks water from the dried bed of the Guadiana river during a severe drought in the Cijara reservoir, in Villarta de los Montes, Spain

A sheep drinks water from the dried bed of the Guadiana river during a severe drought in the Cijara reservoir, in Villarta de los Montes, Spain

Meanwhile, a flooded Portuguese village dating back to the first century has reemerged from the depths with its stony foundations still intact as a result of the drought.

Vilarinho da Furna in Braga, northern Portugal, was intentionally submerged by the state in 1971 to build a reservoir, now bearing the same name, on the Homem River.

Every summer, the forgotten village reappears and becomes a popular attraction, with locals and tourists walking along the ruins that have been underwater for 50 years.

But this year, more of the village has been uncovered due to the sweltering heat that has suffocated Europe this summer.

Locals say that 70 per cent of the former granite houses are now visible.

The guardian of Vilarinho da Furna, António Barroso, told Renascença that: ‘Since 2009, the water has not gone down as it is now.’ 

The village had an unusual communitarian social system in which each family had a member on the council, known as the Junta.

The practice is believed to date back to the Visigoths and the leader of the Junta was chosen among the married men of the village, and they would serve for six months. 

The Junta would discuss important local issues such as harvesting, transport, cattle herding and trapping wolves to maintain the self-sustaining community.

The Junta was also responsible for judging crimes and imposing punishments, which could lead to exclusions from Vilarinho da Furna, meaning they would not receive any of the benefits of the communitarian system.

The village used to house 300 people who were forced to relocate to neighbouring towns in 1970.

The 57 families of the Geresian town left the stones houses as they were before the water drained their properties.

There had been strong resistance to the dam among the villagers but they were unable to stop the government who offered them compensation for the forced relocation. 

Visitors have to access the village via a dirt road that also leads to three river beaches in the area run by the Association of Former Inhabitants of Vilarinho da Furna (AFURNA).

During the drought, authorities have been able to clean the standing pillars and structures normally covered by the reservoir.

AFURNA charges entrance to the village during the summer weeks in order to maintain it and prevent hordes of crowds ruining the buildings.

Barroso, the 77-year-old guardian of the village, is responsible for two thousands hectares in the area.

FRANCE: A wildfire that destroyed thousands of acres of tinder-dry forest in southwest France has flared again amid a fierce drought and the summer's latest heat wave, officials said Wednesday. Pictured: The front of a wildfire is seen in Saint Magne, in the Gironde region of southwestern France, on Tuesday. A small village is seen in the foreground as the smoke rises

FRANCE: A wildfire that destroyed thousands of acres of tinder-dry forest in southwest France has flared again amid a fierce drought and the summer’s latest heat wave, officials said Wednesday. Pictured: The front of a wildfire is seen in Saint Magne, in the Gironde region of southwestern France, on Tuesday. A small village is seen in the foreground as the smoke rises

Since Tuesday, the so-called Landiras blaze has burned 15,000 acres of pine forest and forced the evacuation of almost 6,000 people in an area already hit last month by huge blazes. No one has been injured in the coastal area that draws huge summer tourism crowds, but 16 houses were destroyed near the village of Belin-Beliet

Since Tuesday, the so-called Landiras blaze has burned 15,000 acres of pine forest and forced the evacuation of almost 6,000 people in an area already hit last month by huge blazes. No one has been injured in the coastal area that draws huge summer tourism crowds, but 16 houses were destroyed near the village of Belin-Beliet

Pictured: Smoke rises from a forest fire near the town of Romeyer in the Diois massif located in the Drôme department and at the foot of the Vercors massif, Tuesday

Pictured: Smoke rises from a forest fire near the town of Romeyer in the Diois massif located in the Drôme department and at the foot of the Vercors massif, Tuesday

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Pictured: A firefighting plane sprays fire retardant chemicals over a forest in France as smoke rises into the air

Pictured: A firefighting plane sprays fire retardant chemicals over a forest in France as smoke rises into the air

There were no reports of any injuries in wildfire in The Netherlands, but authorities said the main coastal road was closed in the province that is packed with tourists throughout the summer

There were no reports of any injuries in wildfire in The Netherlands, but authorities said the main coastal road was closed in the province that is packed with tourists throughout the summer

Pictured: Blackened earth is seen from above in The Netherlands after a wildfire spread through near the Brouwersdam area

Pictured: Blackened earth is seen from above in The Netherlands after a wildfire spread through near the Brouwersdam area

 

 

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Half the UK’s population now face a hosepipe ban as leaked document reveals more water companies are eyeing the drastic measure while heatwave continues with health alert and temperatures forecast to hit 36C on Saturday

Almost half of the UK population face hosepipe bans within weeks after a leaked document revealed three more water companies are planning restrictions.

Yesterday Britain’s biggest water company, Thames Water, which supplies some 15million people, said it would announce a ban in the coming weeks.

Restrictions covering nearly three million people have already been announced by Southern Water, South East Water and Welsh Water.

And an internal Environment Agency document seen by the Daily Mail reveals that the water companies discussing whether to bring in a ban are Yorkshire, with five million customers, Severn Trent with eight million and South West with up to two million. If enacted, it would bring the number of people under a hosepipe ban to around 33million.

Planned hosepipe bans could see the water supplies of some 33 million people affected as water companies struggle to cope with demand

Planned hosepipe bans could see the water supplies of some 33 million people affected as water companies struggle to cope with demand

It came as the Met Office issued an amber extreme heat warning for parts of England and Wales for tomorrow until Sunday as temperatures are expected to reach 35C (95F) or 36C (97F). The UK Health and Security Agency also put the UK on a level three heat-health alert.

The hot weather led to tragedy on Monday as a 14-year-old boy died after getting into difficulty in a lake in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.

There was also dire warnings that drought conditions could last three months. The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology predicts ‘exceptionally low’ flow levels in rivers until October.

Thames Water covers parts of London, Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Kent. Its hosepipe ban comes despite the fact it lets 635million litres of water a day leak from its pipes.

In this aerial photograph, a man walks along a sun-bleached pathway in Richmond Park on August 09

In this aerial photograph, a man walks along a sun-bleached pathway in Richmond Park on August 09

The scene at Hornsey Road in Islington, north London where firefighters were dealing with a burst water main that caused flooding of about 4 feet as Thames Water urged customers to save water on Monday

The scene at Hornsey Road in Islington, north London where firefighters were dealing with a burst water main that caused flooding of about 4 feet as Thames Water urged customers to save water on Monday 

Further pressure for water companies to act could come this week when the Environment Agency is expected to declare that England is in a state of drought.

The bans make it an offence to use a hosepipe to water a garden, wash a car or boat or fill up ponds, and can attract a £1,000 fine in the courts.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: ‘On the Environment Agency’s sliding scale, we are now one stage before a drought. If this dry weather picture continues, parts of England could move into drought.’

Q&A: Where are hosepipe bans and what could happen if I break one? 

Where have hosepipe bans been introduced?

  • Manx Water: Isle of Man, from last Friday
  • Southern Water: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, from yesterday
  • South East Water: Kent and Sussex, from next Friday
  • Welsh Water: Pembrokeshire and small part of Carmarthenshire, from August 19
  • Thames Water:  Greater London, the Thames Valley, Surrey, Gloucestershire, north Wiltshire and parts of west Kent, in the ‘coming weeks’.

What are the rules?

Once the ban is in force you will not be allowed to use a hosepipe or sprinkler to water your garden, clean your car or boat, fill up a swimming or paddling pool or an ornamental pond. Pressure washing a patio is also banned. But the use of watering cans is allowed.

Who is exempt?

Those with disabilities – who have a blue badge – are exempt for watering their garden. So are those watering an area for a national or international sports event.

People watering newly laid turf and newly bought plants may apply for exemptions.

Commercial car washes and professional window cleaners are not affected by the ban.

What happens if I break the ban?

You could be prosecuted and subject to a fine of up to £1,000 in the courts if found guilty.

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Kaya Terry

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