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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hosepipe ban hits flood-soaked Somerset

A hosepipe ban has been introduced in Somerset as efforts continue to help people whose homes and businesses have been inundated during the wettest winter in centuries.

The county-wide ban prohibits the use of hosepipes for activities such as washing cars, filling paddling pools and watering plants and lawns.

Flicking the jet into the air to create a mini rain shower and putting a thumb over the end of the hosepipe to make the water come out really fast is also covered by the ban.

As residents were evacuated from their homes by fire crews, South Bessex Water officials in chest-high waders could be seen attempting to distribute laminated leaflets and posters warning of the ban's imposition.

When asked what they were doing, one of them replied: "Sorry, I can't say anything. You'll have to talk to our head office. Can you pass me that leaflet before it floats away."

Laminated posters are being displayed across Somerset

Although a swathe of Somerset is underwater, the village of Chunder has been particularly badly affected by the flooding.

One of the village's older residents, Reginald Niffmags (76) has been living in a floating wheelie bin for the last two weeks. When told of the hosepipe ban, he became so agitated his temporary home almost capsized.

"I literally can't believe what you're telling me. You must be making it up. What next? Is the council going to fine me for overloading my wheelie bin --with myself!

"I didn't storm the beaches of Normandy for this. I didn't storm the beaches of Normandy at all - I was only six at the time - but that's besides the point. 

"This is just another example of the appalling level of service we've come to expect from our useless utility companies. I've already had to sell my wife just to pay our last gas bill, and now this!"

A spokesman for South Bessex Water said the hosepipe ban was "just a precaution" and would only remain in place for the rest of the winter, the whole of summer and "probably a bit of autumn".

He said: "We recognise that this ban may seem utterly ludicrous to some of our customers, especially those whose treasured possessions are now drenched with filthy, sewage-contaminated water, but it's a necessary measure to safeguard their future supplies.

"We also know that some people will question whether they're getting value for their water rates, and point to our increased profits with weary dismay.

"What these people need to understand is that if we invested all our money in renewing and maintaining out network of pipes, sure, we'd save water, but what would we have left to give to our shareholders and senior managers?

"Obscene salaries, luxury company cars and gilt-edged pension packages don't fall from the sky like rain you know."

The spokesman refused to be drawn on an internal memo that was apparently emailed to journalists by an anonymous South Bessex Water employee which indicated that water rationing might be introduced if people flouted the hosepipe ban, or even openly questioned it.

He said: "We don't comment on leaks, no pun intended."


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