Published On: Monday 30 July 2018 16:07

Manx Utilities has been monitoring reservoir water levels closely and working with the Met Office on future rainfall predictions due to the prolonged period of mostly dry and often hot weather.

 As a result of this monitoring a restriction on the use of water (commonly referred to as a ’hosepipe ban’) under Schedule 5, paragraph 20.(1) of The Water Act 1991 will now be initiated with effect from 3 August 2018 until further notice. This means that the watering of private gardens or washing private motor cars using any water supplied by Manx Utilities and drawn through a hosepipe or similar apparatus is strictly prohibited. Manx Utilities has the powers to prosecute individuals for non-compliance with this ban and impose a fine of up to £1000.

The current heatwave the Island is experiencing is believed to be a one in 20 year event, potentially comparable to one of the longest heatwaves recorded such as in 1976. Detailed discussions with the Met Office are indicating that extended periods of very warm and often dry weather will continue for the foreseeable future and as a result Manx Utilities is required to take action to manage our Island’s diminished raw water stocks.

Analysis of our reservoir water stocks indicate that if there is minimal rainfall over the next 3 months levels might become critically low. Manx Utilities have balanced water levels between our primary reservoirs in addition to requesting that the public ‘use water wisely.’ The lack of rainfall in conjunction with the evaporation effect has resulted in an unprecedented position for the Isle of Man, which must be managed by Manx Utilities, supported by the IoM Government.

Adrian Cowin of the Isle of Man Metrological Office said, "There is unlikely to be significant rainfall in the next few weeks and the likelihood of near normal rainfall in the next three months is less than 40% based on the seasonal modelling currently available. Island residents should keep in mind that despite short spells of rainfall this will only be enough to sustain gardens but not enough to top up water stocks in reservoirs, even after any heavier bursts. This is primarily due to the surrounding catchment area of reservoirs absorbing rainfall and also the warm temperatures causing significant evaporation".

Chairman, Dr Alex Allinson MHK, said, "Reservoir levels are still much lower than we would wish for at this time of year and, with forecasters predicting a continuance of hot dry weather, with reduced likelihood of significant rainfall for the next three months, we are now at a position where we need to impose restrictions on water use. It is not a decision that the Board has taken lightly and we hope these restrictions will help towards safeguarding our Island’s essential water supplies until we experience a period of sustained rainfall. In the meantime we are working on a range of contingency measures in consultation with Government Agencies. Although the restrictions are imposed on domestic users we would also ask businesses to consider their water use to further help the situation and work together with us to avoid water shortages."