There are fears in the UK of a super drought for 2012 and for years to come. Water shortages can normally lead to one dreaded outcome: a hose pipe ban. How can we ensure that our gardens continue to get the water that they need without using the hose pipe? Below is a quick outline of what a hosepipe ban really means and the can and can’ts of water usage under a hose pipe ban based on current legislation.
There are still lots of permitted uses for hose pipes connected to your tap, but of course watering the garden is not one of those. The permitted uses are:
- Use of a hose or pressure washer to clean patios, boats, paths, garden furniture, barbecues windows, and a wide variety of other objects, but it excludes a car;
- To use a hose to fill up a swimming pool or paddling pool, ponds and other containers;
- Use a hose to mix cement or for any other DIY job;
- Use a hose to put out a fire;
- Use of a hose to to wash down pets, horses or for people to take outdoor showers with a spray head;
- Use a hose with a back flow prevention valve to fill livestock drinking troughs;
- Use a hose for children’s play.
You can water your garden from a water butt and pump. As a water butt is a container (you are allowed to fill up containers with a mains connected hose pipe), this is a cheeky way to try and get around the issue, but I wouldn’t rely on this as an argument because its not officially allowed. Obviously rain water collected in a water butt can be used to water your garden as it is your water that you have collected.
The above guidelines are from outdated legislation and recently (2010) new legislation was passed with a more common sense approach. Rather than having just two prohibition options, it has a list of different sensible restrictions that water companies can impose. Under this legislation, it also gives powers to grant exemptions from hosepipe bans, for example certain types of water-saving irrigation equipment such as:
- Drip Irrigation Systems
- Micro Sprays and Sprinklers
- Night Time watering
The new act includes this precise wording:
“A water undertaker need not ban a specified use of water entirely. It may limit the scope of a ban by, for example, excluding specified groups of customers and apparatus and restricting the use of water at specified times only.”
But don’t get too excited, this new legislation has not come in to effect yet and United Utilities are still having to use the old legislation. We can be sure though that in the future, we will see restrictions similar to those in the dry areas of the United States, which means that the future of garden watering will lie with automatic watering systems, as they offer the efficient method of watering gardens, saving users up to 90% off their water consumption compared to using a watering can (currently permitted), and as 80% of all water wasted in the garden comes from uncontrolled sprinklers and hose pipe use, we should see a rise in automatic watering systems in the years to come bringing us in line with the rest of the world.