What’s a hosepipe drought ban?
With the recent heatwave cooking the UK we are reminded of recent water shortages and hosepipe bans. Because of the special local water sources we use Eden customers don't have any worry about their water dispenser being fully stocked, however drought remains a concern for many other reasons during the Summer.
There have been many years recently where the water utility companies have complained that their reservoirs of water have fallen to dangerously low levels. They have been concerned that if we carried on consuming water at the standard rate, there wouldn’t be enough to go around for all drinking, cleaning and watering purposes throughout the summer season. The threat of a drought is reduced by issuing a hosepipe ban so that our gardens are not watered thoroughly and cars remain dirty through not being cleaned – with hosepipe water.
Can you still use a watering can?
You will need to check with your local water company about the specific details of a water usage ban because some will allow you to continue to use watering cans and buckets so that you can water your garden and clean your car. They find that an acceptable practice compared to using hosepipes or leaving sprinklers on for hours on end.
A hosepipe uses around 900 litres of water per hour whereas a sprinkler uses 600 litres of water per hour. Even when it rains during the drought period, a hosepipe ban often stays in place because it can take weeks or even months to top up the water levels in the reservoirs.
Seven water companies introduced a hosepipe ban during 2012 after complaining that their water levels had fallen to the lowest levels ever after a long two-year dry spell. Conversely, many people who purchase their water through metered facilities can hardly remember a dry spell.
Many observers noted that water companies are losing millions of gallons of their product through leakage and surely if they could solve all of the leaks, there wouldn’t be a need for a water drought and a hosepipe ban.
What happens to your allotment?
While it is clear that you cannot use a hosepipe or sprinkler during the period when they are banned, water companies all issue their own specific rules about what you can water and what you can’t water, during these times.
Where you have spent months and years growing fruit and vegetables in your allotment, it would appear counter-productive to force the hosepipe ban on people’s allotments. Some bans in the past have included allotments while other water companies have suggested that a moderate amount of watering was acceptable.
Do hosepipe bans affect animals?
Animal welfare is extremely important and as you would probably expect, you can continue to fill drinking troughs for animals and clean out the living areas by using a hosepipe. Where you have a pond that requires water so that the fish and other animals can continue to live there, this is an acceptable practice, but again, you should clarify the matter with your local water company and make sure you get the reply in writing.
There are no particular exceptions for disabled people or retired individuals when a hosepipe ban comes in temporarily. Nevertheless, individual water companies are allowed to make their own exceptions to the general rules and often allow people, who are registered as disabled, to continue to use a hosepipe during a drought, where it would be difficult for them to water a garden using a watering can.
Image: Nick Holland