Will there be a hosepipe ban in the UK? How long could it last and what is the penalty?

BBC Weather: UK forecast continued heatwave conditions

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The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning as temperatures are forecast to exceed 35C in parts of the UK next week. However, with rising temperatures comes increased water usage. And while water is currently being treated as a scarce source globally, caning the nation’s water supply isn’t ideal – thus leading to many water suppliers urging UK consumers to use water sensibly over the coming weeks.

Anglian Water spokesperson Sarah Castelvecchi said: “We want everyone to enjoy the fabulous sunshine and being outdoors.

“However we would like to ask everyone to think about how they are using their water. Every drop of water is precious, so we work hard to make sure there is enough to go around for both today and tomorrow.”

But the relentless hot weather and increasing calls to mind water usage have sparked concerns the UK may be due to face another hosepipe ban.

What is a hosepipe ban?

During heatwaves or water shortages, hosepipe bans can be put in place as a means to control how much water households use.

 

Water suppliers are able to tell when water resources are running low by assessing reservoir and river levels.

The bans will typically prevent the use of hoses, sprinklers or sprinkler systems.

Hosepipes are targeted more specifically as these tend to use much more water than other devices. By temporarily banning hosepipes, research from the United Kingdom Water Industry Research indicates it has the potential to reduce water usage by up to 10 percent.

Is a hosepipe ban likely in the UK?

According to Hosepipeban.org, there was no hosepipe ban in place in the UK in the middle of July.

While water companies are calling for the public to reduce water usage, they have reaffirmed they are not planning to enforce one of these bans just yet – but it hasn’t been ruled out.

Neil Dewis, director of water at Yorkshire Water, said: “Our region has seen a prolonged dry spell.

“While we’ve not had a bumper summer of sunshine and high temperatures, there has been very little rain with just some short, sharp showers that don’t deliver the water we need in our reservoirs and rivers.”

However, on Monday, Yorkshire Water was said to have supplied over 1.5 billion litres of water, which is 200 million litres above normal levels.

Mr Dewis continued: “We’ve got teams out and about across Yorkshire, working round the clock to save water from leaky pipes, prioritising larger leaks.

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“We’re also asking our customers to help us save water where they can. Simple steps can help reduce wastage and ensure we make the most of the water we’ve got so there’s enough to go around.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Thames Water, which supplies much of London and the home counties, said it is not “currently expecting to need to introduce restrictions on water use this summer”.

They added: “But we know the water we have stored in our reservoirs will reduce as people start to use more water in their gardens through the summer.

“So if we do not receive around or above average rainfall in the coming months this will increase pressure on our resources and may result in the need for more water saving measures including restrictions.”

For the more southern regions of the UK, potential “extra measures”, which includes the use of Temporary Use Bans (TUBS), have been warned.

A spokesperson for Southern Water, said: “We do not anticipate the need for temporary use bans across the whole of our region in the coming months.

“However, we may require extra measures in certain areas where water is scarcer and the pressure on supply is greatest, such as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The supplier said that it’s “working closely with local communities and partner agencies in these areas, to keep disruption to a minimum.”

How long will a temporary hosepipe ban last?

According to legal resources group In Brief, a temporary ban will last until the water undertaker revokes it. The Water Industry Act 1991 does not define what is meant by ‘temporary’, meaning a ban could last for a considerable – or short – length of time.

What is the penalty for contravening a hosepipe ban?

If you break the rules, you can be prosecuted in a criminal court and fined up to £1,000, under the Water Industry Act 1991 section 76.

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