County council to stage drought summit

Near record low rainfall has forced utlity companies to annouce water restrictions.
Near record low rainfall has forced utlity companies to annouce water restrictions.

FOLLOWING the hosepipe ban announcement earlier this month West Sussex County Council will host a drought summit to explore what contribution it can make on Friday March 30.

It will invite representatives from Southern Water and South East Water to the meeting, both of whom announced water restrictions beginning April 5.

Lionel Barnard (Con, Henfield), deputy leader of the council, said: “Obviously as a council we will be leading by example and doing all we can to reduce our own water consumption.

“We already have several initiatives underway and the fact that we are reducing the number of buildings we operate from will mean using less water and reduce our carbon footprint generally. The meeting will be an opportunity to find out what we can do as a local authority to advise residents and businesses on what steps they can take to reduce water use now, and what steps can be taken if the situation does deteriorate.

“We serve a population of 800,000 people and have a business community ranging from companies on industrial estates to many farmers and growers, so there will obviously be a great deal of concern.

“It will also be a chance to explore with the water companies what can be done in the long term once the current water shortage is over.”

Meanwhile Pete Bradbury (Con, Cuckfield and Lucastes), cabinet member for public protection, is leading a review of the type of action the county council might take if there were any further emergency measures.

He said: “A severe drought event could impact on West Sussex in a variety of ways including the disruption of our infrastructure, health and social care systems, and by putting the vulnerable at greater risk.

“We all hope the situation will not get worse, but as a responsible local authority we have to make sure we have plans in place to assist our most vulnerable communities.”

The county council has updated its website to include the latest information about the drought with advice on how to save water.

Mr Barnard explained: “This may all seem like commonsense, but these small measures can really add up and make a difference.”

For more information visit www.westsussex.gov.uk and finding Drought on the A-Z index.