Guidance on temporary water restrictions

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  Temporary use bans, or ‘hosepipe bans’

    Temporary use bans, or ‘hosepipe bans’

    The following guidance is designed to help grounds people to understand what bans are currently in place and whether or not their local water company has granted an exemption for continued use.

Temporary use bans, or ‘hosepipe bans’ 

All water companies can impose a ban or restriction on the use of hosepipes and sprinklers in their area if there is a serious shortage of water. These bans or restrictions must be approved by the government before announcements are made and people not meeting exemption criteria that use a hosepipe or sprinkler during a ban may be committing a criminal offence and could be fined. 

Bans are typically aimed at domestic customers and water companies make clear on their website who is exempt. Statutory exceptions include ‘Using a hosepipe for health or safety reasons, where this includes (a) removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety.’

The following guidance is designed to help grounds people to understand what bans are currently in place and what exemptions apply. 

You can also read guidance on watering and drought management, which has been produced in collaboration with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

LATEST UPDATE:

On the afternoon of 12 August, the Environment Agency announced Drought Status across eight of its 14 areas, including:

Devon and Cornwall
Solent and South Downs
Kent and South London
Herts and North London
East Anglia
Thames
Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire
East Midlands

This is the first time since 2018 that England has declared a drought and everybody is being urged to use water sparingly during these longstanding periods of hot temperatures. Water conpanies will implement the stages of their pre-agreed drought plans at a local level.

Recent announcements from water companies:

Yorkshire Water announced a Temporary use ban on 12 August 2022.

It takes effect on 0001 on 26 August 2022.

The ban is primarily focused on restricting household water use.  You will be allowed to use a hosepipe if this is directly related to the use of water for commercial purposes.

Specific areas of play, such as the cricket wicket, greens, etc. are able to be watered by a hosepipe to make sure the activity can be carried out safely. Where possible, Yorkshire Water encourages other means of watering which are not as water guzzling as hosepipes or sprinklers.

All other grass and plants watering in such facilities is covered under the restrictions of the ban and you would not be allowed to use a hosepipe or sprinkler.

Read the full set of Water Restriction FAQs on the Yorkshire Water website.

Wales Water has also announced a Temporary Use ban in the Pembrokeshire area as well as a small adjoining part of Carmarthenshire. 

It takes effect on 0800 on 19 August 2022.

The ban is primarily focused on restricting household water use.

Although ‘an area of grass used for sport or recreation’ is classified as a ‘garden’ and is in scope of the ban, the Statutory exceptions include ‘Using a hosepipe for health or safety reasons, where this includes (a) removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety.’

Read the full set of Water Restriction FAQs on the Welsh Water website.

Other water companies with restrictions in place are:

Temporary use ban announced at 0600 on 29 July 2022.  

It takes effect at 0001 on 05 August 2022.  

The temporary use ban is being implemented in Southern Water supply areas in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. 

The ban is primarily focused on restricting household water use.  

The ban does not impose restrictions on essential and commercial uses of water. For example, commercial window cleaners and car washes, or businesses that need water as part of their operations.   

Read the full set of Drought Restriction FAQs or check your postcode on the Drought restriction checker on the Southern Water website.  

Temporary use ban announced at 0900 on 03 August 2022.  

It takes effect at 0001 on 12 August 2022.  

The temporary use ban is being implemented in South East Water supply areas in Kent and Sussex. 

There is an exemption that allows you to use a hosepipe to water an area of grass or outdoor artificial surfaces used for sport or recreation (on the active strip/ playing area – not the whole grounds) when undertaken outside of daily peak hours that occur 8am to 10am and 5pm to 9pm. 

There is also an exemption if you use drip or trickle irrigation watering systems, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, that are not handheld, that place water drip by drip directly onto the soil surface or beneath the soil surface, without any surface run off or dispersion of water through the air using a jet or mist; a fixed watering system; or you use watering cans and not hoses. 

Read the full set of Temporary Use Ban FAQs on the South East Water website. 

There are two kinds of drought order: 

  • An ordinary drought order limits the use of water for specific activities – for example no car washing or watering gardens. These drought orders can be for six months or less, and can be extended up to a year 
  • An emergency drought order limits the supply of water and makes alternative arrangements for the supply of water, for example by erecting a stand pipe in the street.  These drought orders are for three months or less and can be extended up to a further two months. 

Drought orders must be advertised in a local paper and explain that objections can be made to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or National Assembly for Wales. 

If your supply is cut off due to an emergency drought order, you may be able to claim compensation. 

If you break a drought order, for example by using a sprinkler, you may be committing a criminal offence and could be fined.