Christine Colvin, of the Rivers Trust, said: ‘We felt these bans came quite late. Given that we were experiencing an incredibly dry July following a low rainfall year, I believe that many of these emergency measures should have been announced in mid-July and implemented in the second half of July rather than leaving them until mid-July. August.
“That’s a full month of use at the hottest time of year, when we could have saved on the supply side.”
The Environment Agency has warned that much of England is heading for drought if the dry weather continues. Very warm weather is again forecast for the south of England next week, with temperatures expected in the mid-30s.
July was the driest month on record for the South East of England and East Anglia, with just 10% of the average rain falling in the South East.
In Cornwall, 40 firefighters battled a grass fire near Truro on Saturday, while in Norfolk the River Wensum stopped flowing through a historic watermill for the first time in a century.
Scotland went on a ‘red alert’ for drought on Friday, prompting the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to implement its first-ever water bans, limiting use for industrial users, including including distilleries and golf courses.
Responding to the need for action by water companies to stop leaks, Mr Eustice said: “It is incumbent on companies to do more to reduce leaks, building on the progress made in recent years.
“We expect water companies to step up, adapt, innovate more in their demand reduction approaches and better support customers in water consumption reduction measures. If we don’t see the changes we and the public rightly expect, I won’t hesitate to step in and take further action.