Our business is intrinsically linked to the environment as we rely on it for our raw product, water. For this reason we do all we can to ensure there is a clean, resilient and sustainable supply available for current and future water customers whilst ensuring there is enough water available to support the needs of the environment too. Click 'Discover More' to find out more from our Head of Environment, Emma Goddard.


Our people are dedicated to providing you with the best service possible, whether they’re out in the field searching for leaks, managing our operational sites, testing the quality of your water or answering your queries. Each and every person within the business is dedicated to delivering you the safe reliable tap water supply you expect. Click 'Discover more' to find out more from our Head of HR, Sian Jenkins.

Last updated 13-07-23

Dry weather (or a drought) is a natural event which happens when a period of prolonged low rainfall creates a water shortage.

There are four recognised forms of Drought; Meteorological, Agricultural, Ecological and Hydrological, of which the later has particular relevance given South East Water’s reliance on both groundwater and surface water resources from where we abstract to meet customer demand.

Environment – rivers, groundwater levels (aquifers), wildlife and habitats

Agriculture – crop production, animal stocks and farming practices (irrigation)

General water supplies – to homes and businesses

Every five years we are committed to updating our statutory Drought Plan, which defines our response both in terms of how we prepare in advance, how we respond during an event and the measures deployed to support recovery post drought. The Drought Plan continues to be revised and this approach will allow South East Water to response to those inevitable future challenges posed by climate change. We were given approval to publish our final Drought Plan by DEFRA in May 2022 and you can find out more here.

Whilst Summer 2022 was not classified as a Drought, water resource conditions leading into the Autumn were deteriorating and to the extent that it was recognised that recovery would largely be dependent on above average winter recharge. In preparation the first phases of the Plan were enacted, and that included working with the Regulator resulting in the successful application of a Drought Permit to support the refilling of Ardingly Reservoir. Although not fully deployed, due to improving resources following successive months of higher than average rainfall, the Plan has been refined based on new learning.

Our target for 2022/23 is to have zero customers impacted by a 1-in-200 year drought.

How have we performed?

Our performance in the year was higher than target with 14.2 per cent of the population at risk of restriction in a drought due to the implementation of hosepipe bans last summer.

You can find out more about the implementation of the hosepipe ban in the summer of 2022 here.

Case Studies

Ardingly Drought

Record-breaking heatwave and drought

The drought and heatwave that affected the south east of England, the country, Europe (and the USA and China) in summer 2022 were exceptional.

Cockhaise Farm

Grant-funded investments to reduce pressure of drought

Grant-funded investments to reduce pressure of drought