The Environment Agency will be addressing the problem of water shortages and climate change by sponsoring a sustainability conference organised by Brighton and Hove City Council. On Thursday (April 20), the Environment Agency will be joining Brighton and Hove Council, Southern Water, Waterwise and Michael Meacher MP at the Hove Town Hall event.

Also attending will be representatives from businesses and organisations across Sussex. Discussions will focus on the lack of water resources in the region and the impacts of climate change.

Despite some rain and snow in February and March, we still face possibly the worst drought in the last 100 years. March looks likely to have been the 17th month of below average rainfall in the south east of England.

Latest figures show the region had received just 70% of the expected rainfall. The Environment Agency's Sussex Area Manager Rupert Clubb will be speaking at the sustainability conference.

Rupert said: "Water is essential for natural life and for human use. The way we use water in our homes and gardens, in commerce and industry and in agriculture, has a direct impact on the environment, so we must have a plan for the management of water that will protect the long-term future of the environment, while encouraging sustainable development.

"We are asking people and companies to help conserve water, so we can avoid unnecessary damage to the environment and help conserve supplies because we can't predict how long the dry weather will last.

"Hosepipe bans will be in place throughout south east England and we have asked water companies in this area to look at other options. These include banning water use for non-essential activities, like washing windows and watering parks, before applying for drought permits or orders to take more water from rivers and groundwater."

Participants will have the chance to attend a series of workshops encouraging them to take shared responsibility for water conservation. The ideas from the conference will be used to develop a Water Action Plan, which will form part of the Sustainability Strategy for Brighton and Hove.