Suffolk's water fears

WATER officials in Suffolk are preparing to do a rain dance if the heavens don't open over the next few weeks.At present Alton Water, which supplies water to the Ipswich area, is more than 80 per cent full - about normal for this time of the year.

WATER officials in Suffolk are preparing to do a rain dance if the heavens don't open over the next few weeks.

At present Alton Water, which supplies water to the Ipswich area, is more than 80 per cent full - about normal for this time of the year.

But engineers fear that if the extremely dry January extends into the rest of February and March then the area could face real problems in the spring and summer.

January is usually one of the wettest months of the year, but this time it has been exceptionally dry with less than a quarter of the usual rainfall so far this year.


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Nationally 2005 was the driest year since 1973, although East Anglia - the driest part of the country - actually got more than its fair share of rainfall.

A spokeswoman for Anglian Water said: “This region had about average rainfall over the year and by the end of December things were about normal.

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“In fact water levels now are within the range we would expect them to be. We would expect Alton Water to be between 80 and 90 pc full.

“But we would expect it to get more full over the next few months. We need it to be 95pc full by the beginning of April.

“If we don't get the rain between now and the end of March then we could have problems in the summer, but we haven't had any hosepipe bans in East Anglia since 1994.”

Consumers in the region were among the best in the country when it comes to conserving water and according to Anglian Water this is partly because more of them have water meters than in any other part of the country.

There is also the lowest rate of leakage among any of the major water companies.

While consumers in East Anglia are in no immediate danger of facing hosepipe bans, those on the other side of the Thames are facing restrictions.

Southern Water has introduced a ban in part of Kent and Sussex and has warned its customers that unless the rain comes, more restrictions will follow.

EVENING Star weatherman Ken Blowers held out little hope for an immediate replenishment of Anglian Water's supplies and warned things could be difficult over the next few months.

He said: “Historically February is one of the driest months of the year. It is often the driest month of all.

“January has been exceptionally dry this year and that is usually a time when quite a lot of rain falls so you can understand their concerns.

“From late January until the end of March the prevailing wind tends to come from the north east or east and that is a very dry direction. That is what is happening at the moment and there is no sign of rain over the next week or so.”

January has been the driest in the Ipswich area since 1997.

East Anglia is the driest part of the United Kingdom with an average rainfall less than that in Israel.

The average rainfall in Ipswich is 23.8 inches.

Last year 20.9 inches of rain fell in the town.

The average rainfall for January is 2.4 inches.

Last month's rainfall was just half an inch.

Alton Water holds two billion gallons of water.

It is currently 81pc full.

At this time of the year engineers expect Alton Water to be 80-90pc full.

Source: Ken Blowers/Anglian Water>

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