United Utilities – which supplies water for the North West of England – has announced that a hosepipe ban will be put in place from Sunday 5 August, affecting approximately seven million customers.
The ban, which is officially known as a ‘Temporary Usage Ban (TUB)’ will mean households in Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside will be prevented from using hosepipes or sprinklers. It follows a similar ban in Northern Ireland earlier this month.
After the longest heatwave in the UK since 1976, many will be faced with the prospect of parched lawns, withered flower beds and dirty cars for at least a period of weeks. Forecasters are predicting that the period of hot weather could continue until September.
Is everywhere in the North West affected?
Not quite everywhere. Some areas in the region will not be banned from using a hosepipe or sprinkler, despite receiving their water from United Utilities. Both Carlisle and north Eden Valley will escape the ban as water levels are not as critical in these locations.
You can see if your house is exempt on the United Utilities website.
What about the South of England?
There are currently no plans to introduce a hosepipe ban elsewhere, but some water companies are advising their customers to take extra care to conserve water because of increased demand and low reservoir levels.
What happens if you break the ban?
If you use a hosepipe or sprinkler in an area where a ban has been introduced, you could be fined up to £1,000. This includes things like watering your garden, washing your car, filling a paddling pool or cleaning windows.
In practice, however, many water companies will issue with a written warning before imposing fines.
If your water company intends to impose a fine, you will be issued with a court summons from the magistrates court. If the water company is successful in proving you have broken the ban, you will be convicted and fined £1,000.
There are some exceptions however. If you need to use a hosepipe for health and safety reasons, to water plants or crops grown for commercial use or to fill a pool in which animals are kept, it is possible to contact United Utilities, on or before 5pm on 4 August to be granted permission. A full list of exemptions can be found on their website.
How will the water company find out?
Many of the people caught out by the ban are those who have been reported by their neighbours. If you choose to wash your car using a hosepipe, you might also be found out by passers-by at the front of your property.
Can I still use a watering can?
Yes. You can still tend to your garden or wash the car using a watering can or bucket. You can also use collected rain water or any other source apart from the mains supply.