AREAS of Hampshire, are “highly likely” to be hit with a hosepipe ban, Southern Water has announced.

Bosses at the utility firm say they are preparing to impose Temporary Use Bans (TUBs) next month.

It comes over fears of dropping water levels in the River Test.

Now bosses at Southern Water say they are preparing to apply to the Environment Agency for a drought permit.

The permit will allow Southern Water to continue using the river, which the company describes as a “vital source of fresh water for south Hampshire”, if flows continue to drop as forecast.

But bosses say if the permit is granted, then a hosepipe ban is likely to be imposed in Southampton, rural areas in the west of Hampshire and possibly the Isle of Wight.

Nigel Hepworth, water resources policy manager at Southern Water, said: “Using a drought permit means that we must do everything in our power to reduce water use and so minimise the impact on the river’s precious and unique habitat.

“If the drought permit is granted we will be asking more of our customers by imposing TUBs in certain areas.

“If we do have to do this, it will be carried out in a phased way in specific areas which depend on the River Test for water and we’ll provide full details in advance.

“We understand this is disruptive and inconvenient but we’ve also seen our customers feedback that protecting the environment and the River Test is a priority for them too.”

Mr Hepworth added that the firm had deployed extra teams and technology to tackle leaks across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and was now wasting 5 million fewer litres a day than in February.

The announcement was made on the same day that temperatures in Southampton soared to 30C, while temperatures in London hit topped 38C.

The introduction of a hosepipe ban was backed by Southampton Green Party’s treasure, Ron Meldrum.

He said: “I’m not sure what other choice they have.

“Of course, I would hope residents will obey the request and look at other ways they can reduce their water consumption, like tipping their washing up water into the garden.”

A spokesperson for Southern Water said the company would run a postcode checking scheme on its website to allow customers to check if their area is included in the hosepipe ban.

The Environment Agency has been contacted for a comment.