A HOSEPIPE ban looks set to be introduced in Buckinghamshire - months before summer arrives.

Thames Water is one of seven companies which will bring in restrictions as southern England is hit by drought, it is being widely reported today.

The Environment Agency said today that hosepipe bans could come in as early this month.

After exceptionally dry conditions for two years in the Thames Valley region, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman announced last month that the South East of England is officially in drought.

She called for everyone to help by using less water.

An Environment Agency report, released today, found restrictions could be imposed before April if dry weather continues into spring.

There may be greater risks to the environment and wildlife, with plant and animal species being lost, at least temporarily, from freshwater and wetland sites, it added.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to meet the challenges of a continued drought.

"Our report urges water companies, farmers and other businesses to look again at ways to improve short term water storage, share water resources where possible, and reduce the amount they and their customers use.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “The recent Drought Summit highlighted the threats of another dry winter to various parts of the country, but more areas are likely to be affected unless there is significant rainfall in the coming months.

“We can all help reduce the effects of drought by being smarter about how we use water. Taking action now will help us all in the future.”