London: Five million persons in London face tougher restrictions on their water use after the supplier, Thames Water, announced it was to ask the Government for a drought order. The move could lead to a ban on non-essential uses of water in the British capital, such as washing cars, filling private swimming pools and using hosepipes to water public gardens, parks and sports grounds. The company says it may apply for an extension to cover a further 3 million people in its supply area. A domestic hosepipe ban is already in place, but an official admitted that the company's leakage rates were ``unacceptably high.'' The company says it is spending £ 1 billion to fix leaks and that there has been below-average rainfall in the south-east in every month except one since November 2004. Last year was the third driest on record and the Environment Agency says the south-east faces the worst drought for 100 years.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006