Water chiefs' "massive relief" as East Surrey experiences dry spell

East Surrey was drenched with more than twice the monthly average amount of rainfall expected last month.

Figures released by Sutton and East Surrey Water have shown that during February, the heavens continued to open over the Life area “at the same torrential levels as the previous two months.”

The company said the level recorded – 141mm or 5.5in - was more than twice the monthly long-term average of 55mm or 2in.

The February figure follows record rainfall in January of 232mm or 9.1in, which was more than three times the long-term average for the month of 75mm or 2.9in. It was also the wettest month recorded since Sutton and East Surrey Water began compiling figures in 1910. Rainfall in December was 193mm or 7.6in – 233% of the long-term average. It was the second highest December rainfall recorded.

A Sutton and East Surrey Water spokesman said: “Rainfall for the past three months totals 566mm – 22.2in.

“The average for the same period is 213mm - 8.3in.”

Water levels at both of Sutton and East Surrey Water’s reference boreholes, which enable the company to monitor underground resources, are at record highs for the time of year. The company extracts 85% of its water from the ground, the remaining 15% coming from a surface reservoir at Bough Beech, near Edenbridge in Kent.

That is currently full. Sutton and East Surrey Water’s operations manager (production), Richard Rap, said: “This level of rainfall is unprecedented and has caused massive problems – not least at our water treatment works at Kenley, which is still experiencing minor flooding.”

He said: “It’s a massive relief to everyone that we are finally experiencing a dry spell.

“We can at least take comfort from the fact that our resources are at their highest level ever for this time of year.”

He added: “It will put us in a better position to cope with a long, hot summer.”

Winter rainfall is crucial because it replenishes the underground sources, while rainfall at other times of the year tends to be sucked up by growing plants, evaporates or cannot seep deep into the ground because it is hard.

Detailed regional rainfall and resource information is available on the Environment Agency website at: www.environment-agency.gov.uk Sutton and East Surrey Water supplies water to more than 675,000 people in East Surrey and parts of West Sussex, west Kent and south London. Website: www.waterplc.com

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