Southern Water is applying to the Environment Agency for a drought permit.
The company says the order is to allow for the refilling of Bewl Water in the weeks up to 1 April.
Bewl Water is a vital resource for water companies to supply their customers.
Southern Water say that following exceptionally low rainfall during winter 2016-17 and during October and November 2017, Bewl currently holds less than 43% of its maximum 31,000 million litres capacity.
In a statement the company says: “Bewl Water provides water to hundreds of thousands of people across Kent and East Sussex.
“Given the impact of exceptionally low rainfall on the reservoir’s levels, we need to take action to safeguard supplies for customers and reduce the risk of needing to introduce temporary restrictions on people’s water use over the coming summer. For example, prohibiting the use of hose-pipes to water household gardens.
“That is why we are applying to the Environment Agency for a drought permit for Bewl Water, enabling us to refill it in the weeks up to 1 April 2018.
“If approved, the drought permit for Bewl will give us greater flexibility to take water from the River Medway and River Teise and pump it into the reservoir to help boost its water level ahead of next spring and summer, the time of year when demand for water increases markedly.
“Abstracting more water from the Medway and Teise in this way would only be a short-term measure to secure water supplies – the permit would only be for the period to the end of March 2018. We are applying for the permit now because taking water in winter is less likely to have any environmental impact, compared to the summer.”
The drought order application states: “Take notice that due to the threat of a serious deficiency of water supplies in the Kent Medway, Kent Thanet and Sussex Hastings water supply areas, caused by an exceptional shortage of rainfall, Southern Water Services Limited (“Southern Water”) of Southern House, Yeoman Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 3NX, is applying to the Environment Agency for a drought permit.”
The order is currently a precautionary measure. However Southern Water may have to look at putting in place temporary use bans.
The firm says: “At the moment this precautionary permit is just about refilling Bewl. But as part of forward planning we have to look at the effects of a potentially prolonged, dry winter.
“If that happens then, even with pumping to help fill the reservoir, we may start to put in place some temporary bans such as using hosepipes in gardens or for car washing in parts of the region. We will keep the public updated.”