Hosepipe Ban in the UK 2012– what does it mean for you?

UK Hosepipe Ban – April 2012

Please note: Since this was written, the ban has been lifted as the UK has endured record rainfall and flooding over the last year or so.

After a severe lack of rain over the last 18 months, parts of England are now officially in drought, and as such as of the 5th April 2012 several water companies have announced a hosepipe ban.

As a result of the drought, 7 water companies are introducing the temporary bans – these are listed below.

    • Anglian Water
    • South East Water
    • Southern Water
    • Sutton and East Surrey Water
    • ThamesWater
    • Veolia Water Southeast
    • Veolia Water Central

It is expected that the temporary bans may last well last the summer, and other water companies could invoke the ban as we near this season. Each of the water companies listed has slightly differing rules on what they allow you to do / not do. But these rules are broadly as follows:

  1. You may not use a hosepipe to water your garden or allotment, or any residential plants (you can still use buckets filled from the tap)
  2. You may not use your hosepipe to wash your car, or a private boat
  3. You may not use your hosepipe to fill swimming pools, paddling pools, or ponds (unless they have fish)
  4. You may not use your hosepipe to clean windows, walls, patios and garden furniture, or fill ornamental fountains

As I have already stated you are allowed to do all the above provided you use a bucket to do so. The theory is that hosepipes are left on for unnecessary periods of time, so they waste water (potentially 1000 litres in just one hour – as much as the average house uses in a day)

If you connect your hosepipe to a greywater system, then that is fine, as you are recycling this water anyway. In addition if you do not receive your water from the mains (so via a well or bore hole), then you are also free to use a hosepipe as you see fit.

Health and Safety has become part and parcel of UK culture now, so if you spot a potential H&S risk area, you are free to use your hosepipe to resolve this, especially if animals or humans are at risk. In addition, people with Mobility issues (Blue Badge Holders) are allowed to water their gardens (although do let your water company know)

There are also a few other exceptions (tend to be related to the welfare of animals), but please see the individual websites below for your water company terms.

Fortunately any fields or pools that are due to be used in relation to the London Olympics are also exempt, so we should all be fine to see the UK bring back a record haul in July!!

The maximum punishment for flouting the rules is £1000, so you should avoid it if you can. The water companies will be monitoring meter readings and they are expecting customers to report any neighbours breaching the rules too.

It is obviously very difficult to swallow a hosepipe ban (pardon the pun), since many of us witness leaks in the water infrastructure anyway, and it has been reported that Thames Water alone lose 665million litres a day (a whopping 25.7% leak rate), much higher than the expected 5% saving, the hosepipe ban is expected to save. So the onus is well and truly in the hands of the water companies to take proactive action, rather than reactive (when they spot a leak) to prevent these occurring in the future. However for now, unfortunately we shall have to simply grin and bear it.