The first hosepipe ban of the year has been announced.

After last month's heatwave and a dry start to the year, Southern Water is temporarily banning the use of hosepipes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from Friday, August 5, writes Ben Mitchell, PA.

Hosepipes will not be allowed to water gardens or clean cars, and ornamental ponds and swimming pools must not be filled.

The restriction is the first to be put in place in the region since 2012, although the company stressed there is “no direct risk to customer water supply”.

Alison Hoyle, director of risk and compliance at Southern Water, said river flows are down 25 per cent as a result of one of the driest years on record.

She said: “We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we know the temporary use ban will have an impact on our customers.

“We’re working with the Environment Agency to ensure that we act responsibly to protect our environment.

“We’re asking everyone in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to do their bit by supporting these measures and only use the water that they need.

“We’re experiencing one of the driest years on record for over a century and we’ve seen record temperatures.

“River flows are approximately 25 per cent lower than they should be for July, which is equivalent to losing more than 25 million bathtubs of water.

“We’re asking our customers to help protect our rivers and the habitats that live there by cutting back their water use.

“We believe a temporary use ban is a responsible and vital step to reducing the amount of water being taken from the Rivers Test and Itchen.”

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A Southern Water spokesman said the ban is directed at domestic users and will not affect essential commercial users such as garden centres.

He said: “The TUB is primarily focused on restricting domestic uses of water, but it also extends to certain non-essential water use activities relating to upkeep of grounds of public service buildings and non-commercial workplaces.

“For example, activities such as filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain, watering gardens, or cleaning paths and patios using a hosepipe at a workplace will be restricted.

“However, premises that have ponds with fish and other wildlife are able to carry on with any necessary water support to keep the environment healthy.”

This month has been England’s driest July since 1911, the Met Office announced earlier this week.

The latest data reveals there has only been 0.6in (15.8mm) of rain averaged across England, just 24 per cent of the amount that would be expected in an average July.

The Met Office said that at this stage in the month – up to July 26 – the country would have expected well over three-quarters of the month’s rain to have already fallen in an average July.

Across the UK it has so far been the driest July since 1984, with an average of 1.5in (37.7mm) of rain, and it is the eighth driest in records stretching back to 1836.

The Met Office said it has not just been a dry July, but figures also show that England has had the driest eight-month period from November 2021 to June 2022 since 1976, when the country struggled with severe drought.

Over that period, just 16.6in (421mm) of rain has fallen across England – less than three-quarters (74 per cent) of the 1991-2020 average of 22.4in (568mm).

A hosepipe ban has also been introduced on the Isle of Man.

The 2022 heatwave has led to comparisons with the summer of 1976 during which there were 15 consecutive days when temperatures reached 32C or higher somewhere in the UK, according to the Met Office.