No hoseban despite drought

SUFFOLK'S spring drought goes on!But while we are gasping for rain to feed the tinder-dry ground Anglian Water says the region will not run dry and there will be no need for a hosepipe ban at all.

By Lynn Abbott

SUFFOLK'S spring drought goes on!

But while we are gasping for rain to feed the tinder-dry ground Anglian Water says the region will not run dry and there will be no need for a hosepipe ban at all.

"Even if the drought continues indefinitely we will have enough water to go round," said Sara Rowland from Anglian Water.

"There has been no hosepipe ban imposed for the past ten years and that record will go on.

The main source of water in east Suffolk is Alton Reservoir which, even now, is 93 per cent full – we only ever expect it to be 96pc capacity so there is no problem in sight," she added.

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Historically this is the driest region with a maximum rainfall expectation of 600 mm for the whole year and half the average for the rest of the country.

"We are used to coping with dry conditions by encouraging consumers to not waste water and from our four million customers, half are on water meters. They promote water conservation in addition to saving on bills," Ms Rowland added.

No rainfall has, however been coupled with warm sunshine and as a result the combination has brought fire hazards.

Following a weekend which saw two areas of heathland near Ipswich go up in flames people are being advised to take care when out enjoying the fine spring weather.

Firefighters from Colchester Road and Princes Street, in Ipswich, took about half an hour tackling a blaze at Rushmere Heath, yesterday morning.

They were called to the heathland, off Heath Road, Ipswich, at 8.55am, and on arrival found 15 square metres of gorse on fire.

Later in the day, at 11pm, Holbrook firefighters attended an undergrowth fire at Pin Mill, Chelmondiston. The flames were under control by midnight.

Only a week ago Ipswich firefighters were called to undergrowth fires in Morland Road, Catchpole's Way, Pipers Vale.

Some of these fires are being treated as suspicious but people are being warned to take precautions to stop these fires starting by accident.

Following several weeks without significant rain, heathland and undergrowth around the county has become very dry and like tinder, ready to go up in flames in an instant.

Suffolk's community fire safety officer, Martyn Thorpe, recently warned that the most likely cause of moorland and woodland fires are matches or cigarettes carelessly dropped or by camp fires not properly extinguished.

Broken glass and bottles can also cause blazes as they magnify the sun's rays and heat up the grass or undergrowth below until it eventually catches fire.

In dry weather conditions these blazes become extremely dangerous as they spread quickly and often suddenly change direction.

Fire service advice for preventing these fires includes never throwing cigarette stubs out of car windows, not playing in hay or straw stacks and never using cigarettes or matches near them.

Farmers fear that the combination of dry weather and fairly cold nights has not been good for germinating crops such as sugar beet and that cereal crops could also suffer if the dry spell continues.

In contrast, during the same time last year farmers faced fears that their crops could rot in the rain after heavy downpours.

Between March 23 and April 17, last year 53.3ml of rain fell in the eastern counties. This year the same region has seen just 0.8ml in the same period.

At this time last year only 5pc of Britain's potato crop had been planted — this year the figure is 60pc.

A spokeswoman for the National Farmers' Union said: "It is too early to say what the impact will be, but dealing with the weather is something farmers do all the time."

Weblink: www.suffolkcc.gov.uk/fire

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