The final four water companies in England with hosepipe bans in place have lifted them, in a move affecting about six million domestic customers.
South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast imposed the restrictions on water use in April.
The restrictions followed two unusually dry winters but end after “abnormally heavy rainfall” in recent weeks. Officials said they had expected the bans to remain throughout the summer. Anglian Water, Southern Water and Thames Water lifted their bans in June.
The announcement comes after a weekend in which a number of communities across Britain were hit by flooding following torrential downpours, and forecasters warn there is more rain on the way.
The four water companies said ground water supplies, which they were heavily dependent on, had recovered enough for the bans to be lifted.
Between them they cover all or part of a number of counties in the south and south-east of England, including Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
Double the normal average amount of rain for June fell last month, and April was the wettest since records began more than a century ago.
In a joint statement, the four firms said: “The companies would all like to thank their customers for complying with the restrictions and supporting their plea to use water wisely. This has kept demand for water well below levels normally experienced at this time of year. “Significant – or indeed any – recharge of underground resources at this time of year is most unusual but it follows the abnormally heavy rainfall experienced since spring which has finally brought to an end the severe drought after two dry winters.”
Mike Hegarty, operations director for Sutton and East Surrey Water, said the hosepipe ban had been expected to be in place throughout the summer.
“The recharge in the aquifers brought about by the abnormally heavy spring rainfall is most welcome,” he said. “Normally winter rainfall recharges the aquifers. The recharge is unprecedented and is the highest increase in water levels ever recorded in our area at this time of year.”
However, Mike Pocock, water resources manager at Veolia Water Central, struck a note of caution and urged customers to continue to use water wisely.
“While most welcome, this recovery in the aquifers does not remove the underlying problems caused by the drought and we are continuing to plan for the possibility of a third dry winter,” he said.
The development followed deluges that prompted weather and flood warnings over many parts of Britain at the weekend.
On Sunday, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman visited people in one of the areas worst affected by flooding, Ottery St Mary in Devon. She also went to the Met Office in Exeter for a briefing.
There are no longer any weather warnings in place but there are still a number of flood warnings and flood alerts in place in England and in Scotland.
A flood warning means immediate action is required, and a flood alert means people should be prepared for possible flooding.
BBC weather forecaster Sarah Keith-Lucas said summer was still on hold, with a rainy, cool and breezy week ahead.