Southern Water urges people to ‘use water wisely’ as ‘demand outstrips supply’

Hot weather has seen demand for water rise significantly Photo by Andreas Lischka

Southern Water is appealing for people to save water, saying demand is currently outstripping supply.

The water company says this week has seen the highest levels of use by households and businesses in the county since the peak of last summer’s heatwave, when temperatures hit 34C.

Southern Water says demand is 15% higher than it should be for this time of year – the equivalent of 14 Olympic sized swimming pools too much every day – and this is putting pressure on the water network.

A Southern Water spokesperson said: “Although our reservoirs and groundwater sources are currently in a good position, if demand continues to stay at these extremely high levels and the dry weather continues, this will impact our ability to keep up with demand by treating water fast enough. It can also put added strain on pipes.

“That is why we are asking our customers to help us make sure there is enough water to go round in the weeks and months to come by using water wisely.”

Tim McMahon

Tim McMahon, Water Director at Southern Water, added: “We know when it’s hot it can be hard to save water, but small changes at home really do make a big difference.

“For example, a standard paddling pool can use up to 400 litres of water – almost an average family of four’s daily use, and using a garden hose and sprinkler for just one hour uses 1,000 litres more than one person’s entire weekly water use.

“By avoiding or minimising such high use, we can all play our part in saving water during this hot period.

“Although we are seeing this in Kent at this moment, the message remains the same across our region. Please help us keep your taps running.”

Margate pumping station Photo Southern Water

Southern Water says it is moving water around the region to areas where it’s needed the most and has doubled the number of teams working 24/7 to find and fix leaks as well as introducing new technologies to detect leaks quickly.

Tim added: “While climate change is increasing the challenges due to more common drought events, we continue to do everything we can to prepare for the arrival of hot weather and low rainfall every summer.

“These measures include preserving our groundwater sources for the summer months, continued investments in our reservoirs and water treatment works, and doubling the number of teams working 24/7 to find and fix leaks in our network with latest technology.”

Southern Water serves 2.6 million customers with drinking water and 4.6 million with wastewater services, covering Kent, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

On an average day it supplies 556 million litres of water and treats 13371 million litres of wastewater.

Find helpful tips and advice on how to save water around the home.


  1. firstly repair leak in Wilfred Road. well over a month now. sdo i will not reduce my usage.

    • Well, that’s a really public spirited reply.
      So, when the taps run dry, and people have to fight it out in WWX car park for a few bottles of water, we can blame people like you as well as Southern Water.
      And let’s not forget the reasons behind this very hot weather.

  2. Also long as the shareholders get their money it’s all right !

    Who in their right mind would sell of the most important thing we need, water. Oh yea Thatcher

  3. Their helpful tips and advice don’t go far enough. Why don’t they mention using grey water instead of purified drinking water for flushing toilets?

    And what about all the ‘dead leg’ water we waste when waiting for hot water to find its way to our kitchen taps?

    • We’re too used to plentiful cheap water.
      And it’s all very well using grey water for flushing your toilet. But you can’t really expect folk to scurry up and down stairs carrying bowls of water.
      And indeed, the dead leg is a problem.
      But our Victorian systems (cheap water and cheap coal) were not designed to be economical with resources.
      Meanwhile, we must do the best we can to conserve the supply we still have.

      • Andrew, a lot of people live in flats or in houses with downstairs loos. So they can easily recycle their water without carrying jugs, bottles or bowls up the stairs.

        And I really don’t understand why people can’t capture ‘their dead’ leg drinking water in bottles instead of buying the same stuff from supermarkets.

  4. It’s summer. It gets hotter and doesn’t rain as much. We face increasing climate change.
    But the water companies are privately-owned and planning for the future gets forgotten as they need to produce profits for shareholders TODAY, not some time in the future.
    Broken pipes that leak huge amounts of water can be fixed. But the water companies leak huge amounts of money to their shareholders and top managers and THAT can’t be fixed. Because its not an unfortunate problem to be dealt with. Its the WHOLE POINT of having privately-run industries. So they will never fix it!!

  5. Here we go again few days of sunshine and southern water want us to pay the same money but use less water. There are 3 leaks along the A28 between Canterbury and Ramsgate for over a year and they are still leaking today.

  6. Repair the leak in margate Road reported by at least 4 different people, and throughout kent and Sussex how many new houses being built and those finished taking new familesho many together is your answer to more water usage, it’s not rocket science, this is what people throughout thanet have been saying for months /years in many of us we have not the infrastructure in place to support these extra people let alone the non repair of leaks, stop blaming your customers when we are not to blame you have to remember to we are definitely in a climate change how many wild fires has there been in the last 2 weeks how do you think the fire officers put them ut a bucket of water not much cop a hosepipe and water hydrant is how and yes southern water it uses water my water bill usage last year was down 42 cubic meters how many baths or showers is that or how much saving per week is that approx 809 litres each week, we can’t cut down any more 809 litres of water a week and the bill please use less water cut down on showers etc they at southern water are taking the proverbial waste water out of us another email/letter. going to them and Craig Mackinlay MP

  7. Well, ain’t that a surprise? NOT !!! The pressure in parts of Minster is crap !!! Shower?! Not enough pressure to flip the heat for even 1min, pipes leaking every….and that’s without the multitudes of new rabbit hutches, sorry, houses popping up everywhere. We’ll back with standpipe soon !!!

  8. I’m 62.
    When I was a boy the population was about half what it is now. However, we had heavy industries and far more water hungry agricultural crops than we do now. We had far less sophisticated machinery and a far smaller volume of reservoirs. Heavily populated holes were dug in the roads, repairs effected and the holes were filled in again. The word “emergency” meant that Utilities worked literally around the clock until there was no longer an emergency.
    None of what is happening today really adds up.
    Look at the “emergency gas leak” in Margate reported yesterday (poor use of language). I walked past the site at about 5:30pm yesterday. No men or vehicles there. What kind of “emergency” is that? Especially given that we have also been given a timeframe for when this “emergency” work will be completed.

    This post is not an invitation for an Establishment nudger to profer their Establishment line. It is an invitation to everyone to look around them and think about what they actually see and hear.

  9. It should be illegal to build new houses unless the water supply to the area they are in can be maintained.

  10. First thing are the SW stats. 1000 litres for one person’s weekly use and 400 litres for the daily use of a family of four. Family of four ? divide the 400 by four and you see 100 litres per person per day – that’s only 700 litres a week per personn not 1000.

    Second, our home tries to use as little mains water as we can, e.g using a syphon to take bath water to the gardens (suction and gravity so no electric pump). But this is a drop in the ocean campared to the mains water pissed out in leaks from the pipes managed by SW.

    Thirdly, all the proposed new builds we are seeing across Thanet and Kent. Taking Tim McMahon’s water use stats we see this from phase 1 of the planned Minster development (as reported in IoTN). 133 new homes with 402 bedrooms so we can assume 402 people. That means an additional 160,800 litres of mains water each day. Then we have the homes, like Star Lane, that have been occupied recently.

    It’s right that we should do all we can to reduce or limit our fresh water use and waste water treatment demands but why is it only the customers? SW may be investing loads to improve things but they are NOT telling District, County or Central Govenment planning to stop the builds until they can provide the water treatment and supply! Or, god forfend, state how many new homes they can manage! And will our new Labour controlled TDC make the case as the Green Cllr’s have been demanding for years?

    I love a Titanic analogy. SW as the Ship’s captain telling the passengers (us) to reduce the weight in the ship to slow down that sinking feeling.

    Frankly this piece by Tim McMahon and SW is offensiv. It’s misleading and victim blaming. Shame on him and them!

    • How can one person use 100 litres of water a day ?

      Shower about 10 to 15 litres
      Drinks about 3 litres
      Toilet about 6 times a day
      Cooking and dish washing 3 litres

      100 litres per head seems alot of water

      • Mr X – I don’t know exact use, I was basing my comment on the stats McMahon from SW set out. My point remains though, if SW blame customers while doing nothing to address the core issues it’s offensive and shameworthy. I won’t go into the corruption and fraud!

  11. Not interested when Thanet is a hive of constant building everywhere.
    If the idiots in control of the businesses, councils and planning decisions, etc, around here, think money is more important than preserving arable land, water run off, biodiversity, air quality, a clean sea, useable roads, enough GPs, and so on, then I will continue to use the water I pay for as I see fit.
    No-one in power, whatever the political party, cares. About our water, our land being swallowed up, none of it. So SW can get out there and fix their leaks like the other commentators said, before telling us what to do.

      • Ha ha this is a joke, use water wiseley and yet they are building mor house, putting more strain on outlr water supply. When is it going to stop probably when the water system is completely drained and we have to walk miles to fill up any available container!

        • Yes we will then be a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. nice one the happy money rich politicians who chose to nationalise the water works as it is on monopoly game change all utilities to go to prison as a monopoly game especially for the two main political parties.

  12. So infrastructure investment has been peanuts for years since Thatcher, bonuses and dividends have been colossal, there’s been no drive for rainwater harvesting or any other water economies, no planning for newbuild use, and no climate change amelioration, and now SW want to blame the customers for the shortfall. We should definitely all try to economise, but businesses should be driven not by profit for their (vastly overpaid) bosses and dividends for their investors, but by common good. Fat chance for a privatised industry so lets put them all back into public ownership now.

  13. They really are a hoot.SW send out a ‘water director’ in a suit and tie and expect us to take them seriously.
    Do they expect the long suffering citizens of Thanet to save water knowing that in the first shower,there they will be dumping sewage in our waterways and sea’s.
    In order to expect the public to cooperate,SW must mend it’s ways and stop trying to excuse the inexcusable.

    • Two wrongs don’t make a right.
      It would be great to see water companies back in public ownership, so the money raised from our bills would be spent on leaks rather than investors’ dividends.
      It would be wonderful if the privatised companies did what they’re supposed to do, and invested in the infrastructure.
      But we are where we are.
      A creaking and groaning system, more and more houses being built, and increasingly hot and dry summers due to climate change.
      Even if the companies were to throw £B at the problem right now, it won’t stop the taps running dry in the higher parts of area, or at the end of the line.
      If people take a stand on a misguided principle and refuse to moderate their use of water, it isn’t the water companies that will suffer.
      It’s us. Our neighbours. Especially the elderly, and those with young families.

  14. Take water into public ownership, fix the leaks,stop building new houses, collect water better and stop polluting the sea. Easy!

  15. Last major reservoir built for public water supply purposes in the UK was 32 years ago in 1991. Yet the population has grown quite a bit in them 32 years.
    All those people require water.

  16. If they have invested money instead of taking obscene profits year on year we wouldn’t need to.

    The water companies need better regulation

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