The hosepipe ban affecting millions of people across Berkshire is expected to last until next year, Thames Water has announced. 

The company states that, whilst there has been “some wet weather” during September, the river levels are still “well below average” and reservoirs are “at their lowest level since 2003”. 

A spokesperson for Thames Water said the coming autumn and winter months need to provide “above average rainfall” to get water reserves “back to normal levels” ahead of spring and summer next year. 

The temporary ban was first implemented throughout Berkshire in August, following reports that the River Thames was at its lowest level since 2005 as soaring temperatures reached record highs of 40C. 

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A company spokesperson said this year has been “one of the driest on record”, with ten of the last twelve months experiencing “below average rainfall”.  

“Our reservoir levels continue to remain below average and a lot more rain will need to fall to get our water levels back to normal. Our hosepipe ban is still in place to make sure there’s enough water to go around.” 

The ban means that using a hose to water gardens and plants, washing cars, cleaning windows, patios and walls, and filling or maintaining a hot tub are strictly forbidden. 

Failure to comply with the restrictions can result in fines of up to £1,000. 

However, changes to the rules have been announced which allow a hose pipe to be used to water food on an allotment, water new trees, grass and plants for the first 28 days from planting, and to water sports pitch “to maintain their commercial viability”. 

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Thames Water has come under much criticism in recent months for failing to fix leaks and dumping raw sewage, whilst still paying executives large bonuses. 

The leaks are resulting in the loss of more than 600 million litres of water a day – nearly a quarter of all the water it supplies – according to national reports. 

A company spokesperson said they “know it’s not acceptable” to be losing so much water and have met its three-year target “to reduce leaks by ten per cent”. 

Thames Water has set a further target of reducing leakage by 20 percent by 2025. 

Raw sewage was discharged into the River Thames and its tributaries 5,028 times in 2021, according to the Oxford Rivers Improvement Campaign (ORIC), which Thames Water admitted is “unacceptable”. 

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A spokesperson said they take the matter “very seriously” and are “committed to being transparent” in order to protect and improve the environment. 

 “Our shareholders have recently approved an additional £2billion into the business so we can improve outcomes for customers, leakage and river health,” they added. 

The water company’s bosses were awarded millions of pounds in bonuses despite the issues, which it says are “benchmarked” against other similar-sized organisations and need to pay competitive packages to “attract and retain the best people”. 

“Bonuses are dependent on achieving specified performance improvements in key areas including leakage, pollution and customer service,” they added.