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Busting 6 myths about hosepipe bans

With hosepipe bans taking effect in some parts of England and Wales, our senior director Mike Keil dispels some of the more common myths surrounding the use of these restrictions.

Myth 1: We have hosepipe bans every year.

It might feel that way but actually the last hosepipe ban was in 2012 – a decade ago. It can be confusing because water companies have to give notice of a hosepipe ban happening. In some cases the restrictions are called off during the notice period because the water resource situation has changed. It’s a common misconception that hosepipe bans happen every year – they are actually quite rare.

Myth 2: We are going to run out of water in the next few days.

No we’re not. Hosepipe bans are all about managing water resources so we can make what we do have go further over the months ahead. They are also used to protect the environment and ensure it is not damaged. A hosepipe ban does not mean our water supply is about to run out.

Myth 3: I am being asked to snoop on my neighbours

Water companies don’t expect you to spy on your neighbours from behind the curtains. When there is a hosepipe ban in place, it’s obviously good to talk to others about the situation so that people understand what’s happening. However, this is not the same as saying that you should snoop on your neighbours and report them to the water company or the police if they are violating the ban – the police won’t be introducing sprinkler squads or hose patrols! In the past the vast majority of people have adhered to the restrictions without the need for intervention or imposing a fine of up to £1,000.

Myth 4: I am not allowed to wash my car or water my plants.

You are allowed to do both – just not with a hose. For a car you have to revert to the old school bucket and sponge method. It does just as good a job. As for plants, you should reach for a watering can. Clearly that takes a bit more effort. But it does mean that those plants can still be well looked after and thrive even though we are going through a prolonged dry spell.

Myth 5: Companies don’t want to have hosepipe bans because they will make less money by selling less water.

This is not true. The total amount of money companies can collect from their customers is set by Ofwat for a five-year period. If a company’s revenues change in one year due to changes in water demand, then a correction can be made in future years. This means there is no disincentive for companies helping people to use less water.  Companies are also set targets to reduce water consumption which we expect them to beat – not just meet.

Myth 6: Hosepipe bans are a failure on the part of water companies.

No, they are actually part of a carefully planned process. Hosepipe restrictions are part of each companies’ drought plan. These are agreed as part of a well-established process that Defra and the Environment Agency oversee to make sure there is enough water for people and the environment in times of exceptionally low rainfall. It would be a different story if a hosepipe ban was needed but the weather wasn’t exceptionally dry.


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