HTA warns of hosepipe bans within weeks

Up to now we have had adequate water stocks in both ground water and rivers with the reservoirs at normal levels.  This position has now changed quite dramatically in the last two weeks with a rainfall in June that is the fourth lowest since 1910 and the fourth hottest June since 1910. Most of the country is now at a soil moisture deficient (SMD) of 100mm, much higher than normal for the time of year. 

The long-term prospects for rain are not encouraging. We are heading into a period of unsettled weather for the next two weeks when we will experience heavy rain and thunderstorms but after that it is projected that we will go back to a dry August and September. It is not expected the heavy downpours will have a major impact on water reserves, as the water will not percolate through the soil and much is lost into the sea. 

Summary

  • The North West will be subject to a Temporary User Ban (TUB) or hose pipe ban within the next 2 weeks. 
  • Any business relying entirely on a public water supply for irrigation will be exempt from a ban, e.g. garden centres and nurseries on the mains. 
  • The position for landscapers working on domestic contracts will be clarified as soon as possible, although anyone using trickle irrigation with a timer and pressure relief valve is exempt from the ban. 
  • Many growers who have a river or ground water abstraction are now experiencing “Hands Off Flow” (HOF) conditions with restrictions on either when or how much can be abstracted from water sources.  

North West 

In the past two weeks reservoir levels have fallen quite dramatically in the North West and the area is now at a critical state. Rainfall in the north and northwest of England has been very low with only 6mm in June and it is in a period of prolonged dry weather. Many of the reservoirs in the North West now have algal blooms on them which are causing difficulties. 

United Utilities, the public water supplier in the North West, will start a two-week consultation on Monday 16th July prior to implementing a Temporary User Ban (TUB) or hose pipe ban.  

Garden Centres, nurseries and other businesses on public water supply 

Most water companies have signed up to a UK Code of Practise on TUBs, which means that any businesses who rely entirely on the public water supply for irrigation are exempt under Purpose 1 of the TUB Code of Practice.  

Landscapers

The position for landscape construction is a little unclear at present. Whilst they are a commercial operation they may be working on a domestic garden. It may include any landscapers who would need water for plant establishment where they may be under contract to replace dead trees. Trees that have not had water at planting may not survive and it would be down to the tree supplier to replace it for no fault of their own. The HTA will be clarifying this position as soon as possible with the Environment Agency and will release further information when we have it. 

Domestic gardens

Gardeners can still water their garden whilst a TUB is in progress by using trickle irrigation fitted with a timer and pressure relief valve. 

If you have any concerns over the ban, please contact your public water supplier who can help you with your water supply position and answer any questions.   

North East 

Yorkshire Water are in a slightly better position but are likely to action a TUB consultation in two weeks.   

East & South West  

These areas are in a better position, with levels being at or just below normal. There are no TUB consultations currently planned. 

West Midlands  

The area is at a heightened state of awareness as, for example, the River Teme, a River Severn tributary has stopped flowing in some parts. 

If you have any concerns over a ban, please contact your public water supplier who can help you with your water supply position and answer any questions.

Further information can be obtained on request from the HTA.  

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