FEARS of a hosepipe ban are looming after it was revealed that reservoir levels across East Lancashire have plunged — despite all the snow.

The area saw just 30 per cent of the rainfall that would normally have been expected last month and was the driest on record. And 2010 on the whole was the driest year since 1981 in East Lancashire.

After last year’s hosepipe ban there are fears of a repeat this year with reservoirs much lower than they were this time last year.

Stocks are at 85 per cent, when they would be expected to be full.

Thirlmere and Haweswater which supply huge amounts of water into the North West network, are at just 70 per cent of capacity.

This time last year our reservoirs were above 90 per cent full.

The company loses 460 million litres of water a day through leaks.

However, this is in line with its targets and millions has been spent on new pipes.

But, Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said that more needed to be done to fix the out-dated pipe network.

He said: “The weather has again been very dry and everyone will understand that reservoirs are low again.

"But I think the issue is more with fixing leaks and United Utilities has to look at being economical and investing in dealing with problems.”

A hosepipe ban was brought in by United Utilities last July because water levels in reservoirs had fallen to around half.

In December, just over 1.5 inches of rain fell.

Hyndburn Borough Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: “There has to be a fear that there will be another hosepipe ban because the reservoirs have not recovered and there has been even less rain than we had at this stage last year.

“In Hyndburn there have been many times in recent months that pipes have burst or leaked and that exaserbates the situation.”

United Utilities said: “We’re encouraging everyone to help us save water – often really simple things can make a big difference.

“At this stage it is far too early to worry about a return to a hosepipe ban but we still ask people to be careful.”