What the hosepipe ban means for youBy Linda Fort
March 14, 2012
Reading-based Thames Water is one of seven companies in the South and East which announced on Monday restrictions on water use on customers from Thursday, April 5, to combat the drought.
Thames Water, Britain’s biggest water supplier, said the ban will come into effect before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend – traditionally the first busy gardening weekend.
And it will apply to all of its 8.8 million water customers across the Thames Valley and London.
The decision comes after one of the driest two-year periods in southern and eastern England since records began, with 35cm less rain than normal in the last year.
The move follows the announcement last month by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman that the South East and parts of the East Midlands are officially in drought.
Groundwater levels across parts of the Thames Water region are nearly the lowest ever recorded and many tributaries of the River Thames are running desperately low. The River Pang in Berkshire has a third of its average flow where it joins the Thames at Pangbourne and has dried up upstream from Bucklebury.
Thames Water has been running a publicity campaign since the middle of last year urging customers to use less water, offering free devices like water-saving shower-heads, tap-inserts and four-minute shower timers.
Martin Baggs, chief executive of Thames Water, said: “Groundwater levels in the aquifers, which we rely on for both borehole and river supplies, are well below where we would normally expect them to be.
“In some cases they are at their lowest levels ever recorded at this time of year.
“A garden sprinkler uses as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day and when water is in short supply the needs of families must come first.”
Under the ban, hospepipes cannot be used for gardening, recreational uses such as filling swimming or paddling pools or cleaning purposes except where specific exemptions apply.
People can still water their gardens and clean their cars using either a watering can or a bucket, not a hose.
There are exemptions for some commercial users, such as car washes and window cleaners, for the elderly and infirm, and for national and international sporting events.
Mr Baggs added: “Anyone who willfully breaches the terms of the water-use bans can be prosecuted. And we will do that if necessary.
“But we would much prefer to get results asking for people’s help, understanding and co-operation. ”
He went on: “If the dry weather continues, none of us can rule out the possibility of applying for a Drought Order from Defra, which would result in extended water use restrictions, most of which will affect commercial customers – something we want to avoid if at all possible.”
Rob Varley, operations director at the Met Office, said: “Even sustained rainfall over the next few months would have a limited impact. However we are working with the water industry to make sure they have the best weather forecast information available to help them manage their resources.”
What the hosepipe ban means for you
You will not be allowed to use a hosepipe for the following activities:
Watering the garden
Watering plants on domestic and non-commercial premises
Cleaning a private leisure boat
Cleaning paths or patios
Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
Drawing water for domestic recreational use
Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain
Cleaning walls or windows of domestic premises
Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces