In Depth

Hosepipe ban: the rules and what happens if you break them

Millions of people will be affected by move to conserve water during UK heatwave

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At least seven million people in England are facing a hosepipe ban in order to “safeguard essential supplies” of water as the UK heatwave continues.

United Utilities (UU) has announced that the temporary ban will affect most of the Northwest and will come into force on Sunday 5 August. Carlisle and north Eden Valley will be exempt, as they receive water from local water sources and have not been as badly affected by the lack of rainfall, according to the water company.

Other water companies across England said they had sufficient supplies and had no plans to impose a ban, reports the BBC. Nevertheless, UU insists action is necessary, with no end in sight to what is believed to be the longest heatwave since 1976.

The company’s water services director, Martin Padley, said: “Despite some recent rainfall, reservoir levels are still lower than we would expect at this time of year, and with forecasters predicting a return to hot dry weather for the rest of July we will need to impose some temporary restrictions on customers.”

So what are the rules of a hosepipe ban?

According to the UU website, affected household may not use a hosepipe for recreational purposes nor for watering a garden or plants, washing a car, cleaning a boat, filling a swimming pool, domestic pond or fountain, or cleaning walls or windows. It is also not permitted when cleaning footpaths or any other sort of outdoor surface.

However, you can still use water outdoors if you fill a bucket or watering can with tap water in order to water plants, maintain a garden, and so on.

The company is also urging consumers to conserve water by taking short showers rather than baths, and through simple acts such as turning off the tap while brushing teeth.

What happens if you break a hosepipe ban?

Breaking the ban can result in prosecution through criminal courts and a fine of up to £1,000, according to North Wales regional newspaper the Daily Post.

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