Drought summit planned for county

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A ‘DROUGHT summit’ is being hosted by West Sussex County Council later this month to explore what role the local authority can play following the hosepipe ban announced for most of the county from April 5.

Deputy leader of the council Lionel Barnard will meet with representatives from Southern Water and South East Water on March 30.

Also invited are the Environment Agency and Portsmouth Water, which is not introducing a hosepipe ban but has called on its customers to show “voluntary restraint” in their water usage in the coming months.

Mr Barnard, who is responsible for the Communities, Environment and Enterprise portfolio, said: “Obviously as a council we will be leading by example and doing all we can to reduce our own water consumption.

“We already have several initiatives underway and the fact that we are reducing the number of buildings we operate from will mean using less water and reduce our carbon footprint generally.

“The meeting will be an opportunity to find out what we can do as a local authority to advise residents and businesses on what steps they can take to reduce water use now, and what steps can be taken if the situation does deteriorate.

“We serve a population of 800,000 people and have a business community ranging from companies on industrial estates to many farmers and growers, so there will obviously be a great deal of concern.

“It will also be a chance to explore with the water companies what can be done in the long term once the current water shortage is over.”

Meanwhile Pete Bradbury, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, is leading a review of the type of action the county council might take if there were any further emergency measures.

He said: “A severe drought event could impact on West Sussex in a variety of ways including the disruption of our infrastructure, health and social care systems, and by putting the vulnerable at greater risk.

“We all hope the situation will not get worse, but as a responsible local authority we have to make sure we have plans in place to assist our most vulnerable communities.”

Water saving tips include:

Wait until you have a full load before switching on the dishwater or washing machine.

Old toilet cisterns can use as much as nine litres of clean water every flush. Reduce this by placing a ‘save-a-flush’ or ‘hippo’ in the cistern. These are often available free of charge from your local water company.

Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth or shave. This can save up to six litres of water per minute.

Water your garden in the cool of the early morning or evening. This will reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.

Collect rainwater in water butts to use on the garden.