LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - An English water utility has announced a temporary ban on hosepipes and sprinklers in the southeastern regions of Kent and Sussex amid a prolonged dry spell which has led to supply shortages.

South East Water said on Friday it was taking the step following high temperatures in recent weeks and record demand for drinking water in Sussex and Kent, which borders London.

Last year, England faced its first drought since 2018 as temperatures crossed 40C (104F) for the first time, leading to curbs on water usage, including hosepipe bans, which aim to restrict non-essential water use.

"This situation has developed much more rapidly than last year," South East Water Chief Executive David Hinton said in a statement.

"Understandably, we've seen customer demand increase in line with the hotter weather, however this has impacted our ability to keep all customers in supply at all times."

Other parts of Europe, generally accustomed to warmer weather than Britain, have also seen their own dry spells in recent weeks following extreme heat last year, with fears for crops in France and Germany and southern Europe bracing for a summer of droughts.

Strict usage controls in Britain are generally rare and are a sign of particularly dry weather which, when combined with high temperatures, has previously led to wildfires, damage to infrastructure and severe health problems for some.

South East, which has 2.3 million customers, said water demand in recent days had broken all previous records despite the company producing an extra 120 million litres of water a day - enough to supply four large towns.

The curbs will come into force from June 26, when households will be banned from using hosepipes to water gardens, wash cars and boats and fill swimming pools.

Another English water utility, South West Water, has had a hosepipe ban in place since April in Cornwall and Devon.

Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Sachin Ravikumar is a correspondent for Reuters in London covering general news from across the UK. Over nine years at Reuters, he has helped run various breaking news teams, reported on business and general news from India and worked as a desk editor.

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