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Hose ban stays despite record rain
The ford at Thornford Road in Compton Wood, Hampshire, where a man and a dog died after a car was submerged in fast-flowing flood waters
The UK's biggest water company has warned customers that a hosepipe ban will remain in place despite the wettest April since records began.
Thames Water said heavy downpours bringing more than double the historic long-term average rain for the month had not made up for a shortfall caused by below-average rainfall in 20 of the previous 25 months.
Richard Aylard, director of sustainability and external affairs for Thames Water, said they were aware of the "irony" that heavy rain had set in after the hosepipe ban was announced.
"We had more than double the rain we would expect for the last month," he said. "In fact, it hasn't really stopped raining since we and six other companies imposed 'hosepipe bans' on April 5. We are alive to this irony, and our contribution to the endless talking point that is the British weather. But it took the two driest years since records began for us to get into this drought, and one wet month, even one as wet as April, will not be enough to get us out of it."
The company, the UK's largest in terms of customers, said river flows in the Thames region have been boosted by the recent rainfall, with the Pang in Berkshire, which had dried up completely, flowing again due to run-off from nearby fields. But it said it expected water levels on the Pang, like other rivers in the region, to drop rapidly again because of exceptionally low groundwater levels.
Thames Water, which supplies 8.8 million people in London and surrounding counties, said last month's rain had reduced the likelihood of the company needing to impose more serious restrictions later in the year. But it is likely that the current temporary use ban, or "hosepipe ban" will need to remain in place for the rest of the year. The rainfall has also provided a short-term boost to river flows, which has allowed Thames Water to get its reservoirs to 100% full.
The warning from Thames Water came as parts of England and Wales faced fresh flood fears after heavy downpours lashed southern Britain overnight. More than 0.8in (20mm) of rain deluged some regions in the space of 12 hours as already-saturated river catchments neared bursting point - and more is forecast for today.
A search was launched overnight in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, after a member of the public heard cries for help coming from floodwater off Gloucester Road. Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said it was alerted to the apparent cries for help at 2.20am. Two boats were launched to search the area but nothing was found.
Police said later that two people had come forward to say they were in a group of people shouting in the Gander Lane area of Tewkesbury in the early hours of the morning, despite not needing any assistance.
A spokeswoman said: "Gloucestershire Police are satisfied this is the case and that there are no outstanding missing people in the Tewkesbury area. The individuals involved are being given words of advice about their irresponsible behaviour."