Where are hosepipe bans in place, and what do they mean?

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People won't be allowed to use hosepipes to water plants during the temporary ban

Hosepipe bans are in place or due to come into force across much of England and some areas in Wales.

People living in affected areas can't use hosepipes to water lawns or plants, to clean their cars or to fill paddling pools.

When and where are hosepipe bans being introduced?

Southern Water imposed a ban in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on 5 August, and South East Water introduced a ban in Kent and Sussex on 12 August.

Welsh Water says a hosepipe ban covering Pembrokeshire and a small part of Carmarthenshire will come into force on 19 August,

South West Water has announced a ban for customers in Cornwall and parts of north Devon from 23 August.

Thames Water has confirmed that a ban will come into force from 24 August, affecting 10 million customers across the south of England.

Yorkshire Water's ban will begin on 26 August.

Other water companies say they are monitoring water levels closely.

Separately, the Environment Agency has declared an official drought in many parts of England, with Yorkshire the latest region to be added to the list.

No hosepipe bans are currently in place in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What is a hosepipe ban?

Restrictions on usage vary between providers, but generally people aren't allowed to use hosepipes - or anything that connects to a hosepipe or an outside tap - in order to:

  • water a garden or plants
  • fill a paddling or swimming pool
  • clean a car
  • fill a pond
  • clean walls or windows

But there are some exceptions:

  • for business use (for example, watering commercial crops or running a car wash business)
  • to fill pools needed for medical treatment
  • to water a new lawn within 28 days of it being laid
  • to fill a fountain used for religious practices
  • to top up a fishpond when the welfare of the fish depends on it

Anyone breaking the rules could face a fine of up to £1,000.

How can I water the garden if I can't use a hosepipe?

Gardener Leigh Johnstone from Southampton, who shares tips on TikTok, says plants are hardier than most people think.

Image source, @beardygardener
Image caption,
Leigh Johnstone, known as the Beardy Gardener on TikTok, says there are lots of ways to save water

Mr Johnstone suggests using a water butt to collect any rain water, and using "grey water" from baths and cooking pots.

However, he says, soapy water shouldn't be used on edible crops.

Plants can also be "mulched" to stop moisture escaping: adding material such as wood chippings to the top of the soil.

He also suggests planting drought-resistant plants such as lavender, Euphorbia and wildflowers.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends always using watering cans rather than hosepipes because they direct water more accurately to the roots of plants. Watering in the morning or evening can also help reduce evaporation.

It also suggests letting the grass on lawns grow taller, which results in deeper roots, making the plants more resilient.

The RHS also recommends installing water troughs, putting saucers under plant pots to reduce waste, and using homemade compost.

Do hosepipe ban works?

Water UK, which represents the UK's water industry, says hosepipe bans normally reduce water usage by about 10%.

It suggests further water-saving measures such as reusing paddling pool water, washing dogs outside instead of in the bath, and filling ponds with rain water.

The Environment Agency also said "government expects water companies to act to reduce leakage and fix leaking pipes as quickly as possible".

What have other water companies said?

  • Affinity Water said it shouldn't need to introduce restrictions, but added that was dependent on rainfall in the coming months
  • Anglian Water said it had no hosepipe bans in place and was "working hard to keep it that way" - but was watching river levels very closely
  • Bristol Water said it didn't anticipate the need for any hosepipe ban and was continuing to monitor the situation
  • Hafren Dyfrdwy said it didn't anticipate a need for any ban but was continuing to monitor the situation
  • Northern Ireland Water said it was "currently content" with water levels, but if they reduced significantly it "would have to consider the possibility of a hosepipe ban"
  • Northumbrian Water said its reservoirs were below normal levels but it was "not anticipating the need for any restrictions this summer"
  • Portsmouth Water said it was "not considering applying for a hosepipe ban at this point in time" but was monitoring the situation "on a daily basis"
  • Scottish Water said there were no plans for any restrictions
  • SES Water said it was working to "minimise the need for any restrictions in the coming weeks and months"
  • Severn Trent Water said it continued to monitor reservoir levels closely
  • South Staffordshire Water said it continued to monitor the situation, but had no plans for a hosepipe ban
  • United Utilities Water said it was not considering any ban
  • Wessex Water said water levels were below average for this time of year but that it had no plans to introduce a hosepipe ban

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