THE jury is still out on whether water restrictions such as a hose pipe ban may be needed this summer.
Officials at Portsmouth Water are assessing the situation after an unusually dry autumn and winter has left groundwater levels at their lowest for this time of year since 1997.
As reported in The News, the autumn was one of the driest in 40 years in the Portsmouth area, with a third of the average rainfall in October and half the average in November.
Water supplies are taken from groundwater that collects in the Havant area and tests show that levels are more than six metres below the long-term average.
The groundwater levels have recovered slightly thanks to some heavy rain at the start of January, but Andy Neve, engineering director at Portsmouth Water, said a wet February and March was needed.
He told The News: ‘If we get more than 70 per cent of long-term average rainfall in February and March then, currently, we do not anticipate the need for restrictions during the summer.
‘We will however keep a careful watch on rainfall and groundwater levels and will be in a better position to answer that question at the end of March.’
The firm has not imposed water restrictions since 1976.
Mr Neve added: ‘It’s not a rare event for groundwater levels to be as low as they are now, although they are lower at this time of year than in any year since 1997.’