WATER bosses say unprecedented demand in Somerset during the coronavirus crisis has presented challenges in getting water through its pipes to customers at peak times.

They say the problem is a direct result of more people being at home, leading to a massive surge in the purchase of hot tubs and watering lawns.

Wessex Water director of production Ashlea Lane said demand was at its highest in the driest May on record in England, with sprinklers on lawns and a 1,000 per cent hike in hot tub sales major issues.

Wessex operational staff had to work extra hours around the clock in the final week of last month to manage the network and ensure customers continued to have a reliable supply.

He said: “We weren’t running out of water, but getting it through our pipes quickly enough was challenging when demand was at its highest.

“May was exceptionally dry and warm. During peak times we were putting an extra 85 million litres of water into the network just to keep up with demand.

“We noticed that water was being used at unusual times of the day, typically peaking between 6pm and 10pm as people made the most of lighter evenings outside.

“And there’s no doubt that the Covid-19 lockdown had an effect too, with more people being at home and spending a greater amount of time in their gardens.”

While there is no water shortage or plans for a hosepipe ban in the Wessex Water region, the company is urging customers not to water their lawns, to re-use paddling pool and washing up water on gardens and to water plants in the morning with a watering can.

Mr Lane added: "We certainly don’t want to stop people having fun or enjoying their gardens, but filling the paddling pool with a couple of inches less water or simply using a watering can on your plants makes a big difference."