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What you can and cannot do during a hosepipe ban

Low water levels at the United Utilities, Woodhead Reservoir, in Derbyshire (PA)
Low water levels at the United Utilities, Woodhead Reservoir, in Derbyshire (PA)

More hosepipe bans could be introduced in the UK after a drought was declared in some parts of the country.

Five water companies have already announced bans as Britons continue to swelter through hot and dry conditions.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what you can and cannot do during a hosepipe ban.

– What does a hosepipe ban actually mean?

Under restrictions, customers are banned from using a hosepipe to water their gardens, clean their vehicles, fill their swimming pools or water fountains, clean patios or any artificial outdoor surfaces, clean a private leisure boat, or clean the windows and walls of their homes.

A “hosepipe” means anything designed, adapted or used to serve the same purpose as a hosepipe. This means garden sprinklers and most irrigation systems, connected to the mains water supply, are all considered to be hosepipes, together with anything attached to them like pressure washers.

People should not use a hosepipe that is connected to the mains water supply.

Businesses will only be allowed to use a hosepipe if it is directly related to a commercial purpose.

UK drought warning
Low water levels at Holme Styes reservoir in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire (PA)

– Which areas are affected by a hosepipe ban?

Yorkshire Water became the fifth company in England and Wales to announce a hosepipe ban early on Friday, which will come into effect from August 26.

South East Water confirmed a ban on hosepipe and sprinkler use for its customers in Kent and Sussex, which came into force on Friday.

Similar measures were introduced by Southern Water affecting Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from August 5.

Thames Water, which has 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, has previously said it expects to implement a ban in the coming weeks.

Welsh Water announced a hosepipe ban for customers in the region of Pembrokeshire and a small part of Carmarthenshire, which will come into effect on August 19.

– Can I water my garden?

No, you cannot water your garden using a hosepipe during the ban.

However, there are exemptions if you are watering 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.

– Can I wash my car?

You cannot use a hosepipe to wash your car, van, or any other motor vehicle.

However, you may use a hosepipe to clean a car if it is done as a service to customers in the course of a business or to clean public service or goods vehicles.

RHS warns gardeners to store water
You may water your garden with tap water by hand, using a bucket or a watering can (PA)

– Can I water my plants?

No, you cannot use a hosepipe to water plants in your home or garden.

You may water your garden with tap water by hand, using a bucket or a watering can. You can also water your garden using greywater (i.e. from showers) or rainwater from a water butt through a hosepipe.

However, you can use a hosepipe to water plants if they are crops, vegetables or fruit that are grown or kept for sale or commercial use, National Plant Collections or temporary garden or flower displays.

– Are there any other exemptions?

There are certain exemptions when a hosepipe may be required for “unavoidable health and safety reasons” which could be removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety, or preventing or controlling the spread of causative agents or disease.

A hosepipe can also be used if it is to protect the welfare and health and safety of animals including fish.

– What happens if you break the hosepipe ban?

Rule-breakers face fines of up to £1,000 if taken to court, although water companies say they prefer “education over enforcement”.

People have been encouraged to report their neighbours if they spot them repeatedly breaching hosepipe bans.