© Press Association 2011
THREE of the UK's biggest water companies are lifting hosepipe bans, imposed to deal with drought, following weeks of heavy rain.
Thames Water, Anglian Water and Southern Water will remove the restrictions in place since early April.
Seven water companies across southern and eastern England brought in hosepipe bans after two unusually dry winters left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976.
But the restrictions were followed by record rainfall across the UK in April and more rain in May and the beginning of June, leading to flooding in some areas.
Richard Aylard, sustainability director for Thames Water, said: "While we prepared for worst, bringing in restrictions to save water to ensure there would be enough if the dry spell continued, the topsy-turvy British weather had other ideas.
"Since we imposed the temporary use ban just over two months ago, we have received an extraordinary amount of rain.
"We are really pleased we can now lift the ban but, with groundwater levels still low and the possibility of a third successive dry winter, we still need to be careful. We don't need a ban, but we do need to ask everyone to keep on using water wisely."
Paul Valleley, Anglian Water's director of water services, said: "There's no way we could have predicted it, but in some places we had three times the average rainfall in April.
"Crucially, it fell just within the traditional 'recharge' season - the time of the year when there is less competition for water from the environment, and much of what falls ends up in reservoirs and aquifers.
"Effectively, we had three months-worth of 'winter rain' in April. This was followed by a wet and cool May and June. The persistent rain and low temperatures have extended the recharge season into the early summer, and this has made all the difference."