Midhurst and Petworth farmers say hose-pipe ban is welcome

AS A hose-pipe ban comes into force across most of the Midhurst and Petworth area this week, the farmers’ union, the NFU, has welcomed the help it will give to conserve resources for food production.

The organisation says the temporary use ban will help to safeguard available water resources during spring and summer 2012, in the face of an increasingly severe drought.

John Archer, the NFU’s regional environment and land use adviser, said: “We all have a duty to use water wisely to conserve resources for essential use, such as food production.

“The NFU is lobbying government to provide a policy environment that encourages water security and ring-fences a proportion of future water supplies for food production.

“This ongoing drought is a concern for our members because most agricultural production in this country depends on rainwater.

“But it’s a little known fact that agriculture uses only one per cent of abstracted water in the UK.”

The NFU is having regular discussions at a high level with government, water companies and the Environment Agency to ensure that water resources are available for producing food.

Mr Archer said: “We are now discussing how drinking water will continue to be made available for livestock, and discussing with the EA how any further restrictions on crop irrigation could be phased in to allow growers to plan ahead.

“We would prefer voluntary measures, wherever possible, as many of our members are adjusting their businesses in response to drought and they are taking steps to conserve water.”

The hosepipe bans have been imposed by companies including Southern Water, South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Thames Water, Veolia Water Southeast and Veolia Water Central, with groundwater sources and reservoir levels way below average in many cases.