Bewl Water – the largest body of open fresh water in the South East – has seen its water levels rise at ‘unprecedented rates’ according to officials, after battling one of the most intense droughts on record.
The reservoir, near Lamberhurst, provides water to hundreds of thousands of people across Kent and East Sussex and has a 31,000 million litre capacity.
Privately owned by Southern Water but leased to Elite Leisure Collection (ELC), which runs several businesses in Tunbridge Wells, including One Media, publisher of the Times, Bewl covers more than 800 acres and attracts over 150,000 visitors annually.
It’s popular throughout the year for healthy outdoor activities including walking, cycling and water sports. Each year thousands of fishermen, sailors, windsurfers, and rowers flock to the reservoir.
This year, following what officials have said has been the driest summer for 50 years, Bewl reported its lowest water levels on record – measuring just 42% in late October.
To combat the drought which caused the water levels to decline since March, Southern Water worked closely with the reservoir’s team to bring levels back up to 67% – the average capacity expected at this time of year.
“The water levels have been steadily rising over the past four weeks,” said Bewl Water’s Operations Manager Kevin Parker.
“By carefully managing the reservoir’s capacity throughout the winter, we’re feeling more confident that we will be in a better position ahead of next summer when there will be greater demand,” Kevin explained.
Recent heavy rainfall and flooding allowed Southern Water to begin the operation last month, which saw the refilling of the reservoir from its pumping station at Yalding on the River Medway.
Business Director Andrew Daniells explained that the rising water level is good news all round, particularly for water sports users, many of whom have entered Bewl Water’s annual photography competition.
Launched at the beginning of the season, Best of Bewl encourages visitors to the reservoir to get outside and embrace their natural surroundings and as water levels rise, competition entrants are capturing the beauty of the waters once again.
Bewl is taking submissions via social media (@BewlWater) and both amateur and professional photographers have been capturing everything from woodland to water.
If you’d like to enter, you could be in with the chance of winning an annual parking pass worth over £300 and having your work featured in the Times and across Bewl Water’s social media channels.
Entries must be submitted by December 21, when the winner will be announced.