Bristol Water has advised residents in the city to be careful with their water usage after the Environment Agency (EA) declared a drought.
Some 17 counties across the South West and the Midlands are now in drought, affecting a further 15?million people, after drought was declared across London, East Anglia and the South.
Half of Britain is now in drought as the country faces its most severe water shortage since 1976.
The last two years have been the fourth driest in the past 160 years. Winter rainfall from November to March has been the lowest since 1975-76, meaning reservoirs in the area effectively stopped refilling over two months earlier than usual.
The EA has said Blagdon and Chew Valley reservoirs are “notably low”, while the flow of the River Avon is classed as “exceptionally low”.
While Bristol Water does not say a hosepipe ban is imminent, it urged customers to be careful.
“Although there is no immediate threat to public water supplies at present, we ask customers to be careful in their use of water and remember, every drop you use ultimately has to come from the same rivers and springs that are now at risk of damage due to the drought,” the company said.
“Whatever is wasted today could well be much needed later in the summer.
“If the generally dry conditions continue over the next few months, reservoir storage will rapidly fall, reducing the water we will have available later in the year and make it difficult to refill reservoirs to a safe level in time for 2013.
“It is vital that everyone takes small simple actions now to use water wisely at all times, not just in dry weather. This action will help secure water supplies in the coming months and also help to protect the environment which is now under such stress.”
The last time Bristol faced a ban was 22 years ago in 1990 because of a dry winter and a breach of the Sharpness Canal in Gloucestershire, which provides much of the water for the city.
The Environment Agency announced yesterday Bristol and the entire South West region, from South Gloucestershire down to Cornwall and parts of Hampshire and Wiltshire, are now experiencing a drought.
Meanwhile, the EA has warned of increased risks of flash flooding if the drought conditions continue.
The UK has seen extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and heavy rainfall in recent years, and both droughts and deluges are to increase according to a report recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The report suggests the world is likely to experience both longer and more severe droughts in some regions and heavier and more damaging rainfall in others. With one in six properties in England and Wales at flood risk, the Environment Agency is urging people to sign up to its free flood warning service.