Devon and Cornwall residents are told to cut down on shower times

Devon and Cornwall residents are told to cut down on shower times as summer influx of staycationers and second home owners puts pressure on water supplies

  • A water company has asked residents to spend a minute less in the shower 
  • The company said hot weather and more visitors would put pressure on the area 
  • Up to 40% of homes in parts of Cornwall are used as second homes 
  • Second homes have even been vandalised by locals in protest to rising prices  

Cornwall and Devon residents have been told to take shorter showers to cope with a huge number of visitors this summer. 

Locals there will have to save five litres of water a day to stop reservoirs from running dry, South West Water (SWW) has said.

The water company said heatwaves, more people moving to the region and a boom in staycations in the west country during the pandemic were to blame for the pressure on water this summer.

There have been ongoing tensions between locals and second home-owners who have been driving up house prices in Cornwall, with some homes even being vandalised.  

Hot weather is expected across the UK in the next week, with temperatures of at least 77 degrees Fahrenheit in many parts of the country.

SWW said that the hot weather combined with a huge number of visitors arriving in Cornwall and Devon would put a strain on the water supply there.

The huge demand for holidays and second homes in Cornwall, especially since the pandemic, has put pressure on house prices and the water supply there

Data from Cornwall Council shows where the county’s 13,500 second homes were distributed in 2018

South West Water said the influx of visitors and hot weather would mean residents would have to watch their water usage to avoid restrictions being enforced 

The company said with the average person using 150 litres of water a day, 10 million litres could be saved if everyone in the region cuts down by just five litres. 

A spokesperson for SWW said residents could save eight litres of water just by spending a minute less in the shower each day, and six litres could be saved by turning off the tap a minute earlier.

Lisa Gahan, SWW director for water resources, said: ‘It’s been very dry over the last 12 months and while reservoir levels are good we have had lots of dry spells.

‘More people are coming down on holiday and more people are living here. We just want to make sure there’s enough water for everyone to enjoy.’

She added that hose pipes could use 1,000 litres of water an hour, ‘so simple things like putting hoses away make a massive difference.’ 

Ms Gahan told the BBC that Cornwall has not had to enforce any restrictions on water usage since the drought in the summer of 1976. She said: ‘If we are careful we can have another year without any restrictions.’

A huge number of holidaymakers are expected to visit Cornwall this summer – 200,000 visitors are estimated to be there at any one time.

Last May, 400,000 trips were estimated to take place every week. 

The huge number of second homes in Cornwall is also expected to put pressure on the local water supply, and the number of people with holiday homes there has caused tensions with locals in the past.

There are around 12,700 second homes and 11,000 holiday lets in Cornwall – which has a population of 500,000.

However, there are also over 21,000 on the region’s housing register. 

According to data shared by the local council, some areas of Cornwall have up to 40% of properties used as second homes.

The surge in demand for second homes in the popular south-west spot has seen the price of homes there shoot up.

Figures from the Land Registry earlier this year show the average price for a home in Cornwall is around £334,500 – up from £224,624 in 2018.

This is notably higher than the average UK house price of £280,000, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

The growing popularity of second homes in Cornwall has seen a backlash from locals, with some holiday homes even being graffitied on in March to protest visitors pricing out permanent residents. 

The popularity of second homes and its effect on house prices in Cornwall has sparked an angry backlash in places 

Angry locals have lashed out at owners of second homes, arguing they rarely use them while pricing out Cornwall residents 

The graffiti calls for no more investment properties in the tourist-heavy southwestern county.  The government has suggested it could raise council tax by 100 percent on ‘idle’ second homes

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