The closure threat looming over car wash operators in the Thames Water area has been lifted after the water company withdrew its application for a drought order.

Thames Water’s environment director, Richard Aylard, said that higher rainfall in July and August had reduced the need for further restrictions. Customers also cut their consumption by 8% during July, despite the heatwave.

However, Aylard warned that the underlying situation remains serious. “Two successive dry winters have left groundwater levels in much of the region very low. A third successive dry winter would make the situation worse and - depending on the amount of rain we receive - could mean that we need to apply again for a drought order early in 2007,” he said.