HUNTINGDONSHIRE – and much of the rest of the country – may have suffered a comprehensive drenching over most of the past couple of weeks, but there is no end in sight to Anglian Water’s hosepipe ban.

Spokesman Ciaran Nelson said it would take more than a few days of seasonally above-average rainfall - particularly at this time of year - to refresh the underground aquifers from which the company takes half its drinking water.

"It would be foolhardy to suggest the rain was having no impact, because it's suppressing demand. Obviously, people don't need to water their gardens, and there's no need for farmers to irrigate.

"It also helps the reservoirs, such as at Grafham and Rutland Water, which are seeing a moderate upturn in the amount of water stored.

"But we are in a very serious situation because of the driest 18-month period in a century," he added.

At this time of year, even protracted rainfall such as experienced in April is either soaked up by the parched ground or taken up by trees and other growing plants.

"Only when it's absolutely sodden does it flow through into the aquifers [underground water channels] and that really happens only in the winter," Mr Nelson explained. "Of course, we welcome every drop.

"A moderately above average winter rainfall would fix the problem quite quickly, but you need significant more in the summer for it not to get used up by evaporation, transpiration [plant breathing] and growing plants.

"So we would need weeks, if not months, of above average rainfall - though it's impossible to say how many weeks or months."

Mr Nelson said Anglian Water's hosepipe ban was based on a prudent worst-case scenario of a third consecutive dry winter.

"We want to come out of next winter not regretting having failed to do something this year. That's why we introduced the hosepipe ban when we did."

The Environment Agency is still expecting the River Great Ouse to rise over the next few days as the water flows from Bedfordshire.

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