Parched parts of England are facing a hosepipe ban amid very dry conditions this August.
Southern Water said it is asking customers “to limit your use to reduce the risk of further restrictions and disruption to water supplies, but more importantly to protect our local rivers”.
Those rivers have been left at shockingly low levels due to months of little rainfall combined with record-breaking temperature in July.
All of this has put pressure on the environment, farming and water supplies, and is fuelling wildfires.
Why is the hosepipe ban being introduced?
The Met Office has warned there is “very little meaningful rain” on the horizon for many areas of England as temperatures climb into the 30s in the second week of August.
While it’s resulted in yet another heatwave – when there are above-average temperatures for three days or more – conditions are well below the 40°C seen in some places in mid-July.
The situation has prompted calls for action to reduce water consumption to protect the environment and supplies, and to restore the country’s lost wetlands “on an enormous scale” to tackle a future of more dry summers and droughts.
Where is the hosepipe ban being introduced?
Thames Water, Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru), Southern Water, South East Water and Yorkshire Water have all signalled hosepipe bans will be necessary to preserve supplies.
- Southern Water has already implemented a ban for customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
- South East Water’s restrictions come in from August 12 in Kent and Sussex.
- Welsh Water’s hosepipe ban will come into force for customers in Pembrokeshire from 8am on August 19.
- Yorkshire Water’s ban will come into effect from August 26.
- Thames Water has signalled restrictions are on the horizon.
What are the hosepipe ban rules you need to follow?
You can’t use a hosepipe or sprinkler connected to mains water to water your plants, or your lawn (unless the lawn has been laid in the last 28 days).
However, the ban doesn’t apply to watering plants in outdoor pots or under cover in a greenhouse. You can also use a drip-fed irrigation system.
These same rules and exemptions apply to watering allotments.
You can’t fill a pool or paddling pool with a hosepipe either, but you are allowed to fill a hot tub – and a pond with fish in it if their welfare depends on a top up.
You can’t use a hosepipe to clean your windows, but a professional window cleaner can use one if they are doing it for customers.
A hosepipe can’t be used to wash your car, unless it’s connected to a water butt. Nor can you use a jetwasher, but if you live on water, you can use it to clean your boat if it’s your primary residence.
Can we expect more hosepipe bans in August?
Some firms have so far held off bringing in restrictions despite low water levels, though they say they may need to implement bans if the dry weather continues.
Householders who have not yet been hit by restrictions are being urged to avoid using hosepipes for watering the garden or cleaning the car.
Thames Water’s desalination plant, at Beckton, east London, which was built to deliver up to 100 million litres of water a day in dry weather events, is currently out of service.
Nature campaigners have criticised water companies for leaving it to “the last possible moment” to bring in restrictions, when rivers are in a “desperate” state, and for last-minute announcements that spur an increase in water demand before hosepipe bans come in.
There are indications of a return to more changeable weather conditions from about mid-August, the Met Office said.
The Rivers Trust is calling for accelerated metering, rapid reduction in leakage, support for households to reduce water usage, such as installing low flow toilets and water butts, and sustainable drainage including rain gardens, wetlands and permeable paving to build up local stores of water underground.