How the hosepipe ban affects your business

Dry reservoir

You've heard of dry January - well, in Yorkshire we've had dry March, April, May, June and July, with 34% less rain than the long term average.

The forecast’s looking similar for August. And while our teams are out 24/7 fixing leaks and looking after your water, we’re asking for your help to use a bit less too.

As a business, you will be allowed to use a hosepipe if this is directly related to the use of water for your commercial purposes. There are restrictions on you using a hosepipe if not for those essential needs – so using a hosepipe to clean a path outside your business property, for example, would be covered by the ban. There are more specific examples in the questions below.

Frequently asked questions

The ban

What is a TUB?

TUB stands for Temporary Use Ban, which is the phrase that is used in legislation when referring to what most of us would call a hosepipe ban. So, when we are communicating formally about this – for example advertising it in the press – we may have to refer to TUBs. But to make things simple, we’ll be calling it a hosepipe ban.

Why are you introducing a hosepipe ban?

We’ve had a very dry spring and summer in Yorkshire, and with the highest peaks in water usage in over 15 years, we’ve been asking our customers to use water wisely for some time.

Although there has been some patchy rain over parts of Yorkshire in the last few weeks, our reservoir levels are still feeling the impact of much drier than average rainfall since the beginning of March. At the start of August, they were around 50% full, which is over 20% lower than usual for this time of year. We’re introducing a hosepipe ban to help our reservoirs bounce back and reduce reliance on river water, to protect the environment.

When does the hosepipe ban start and what area does it cover?

The hosepipe ban starts 26 August 2022.

Simply put, if you receive your water supply from Yorkshire Water, then the ban will affect you. It will not affect customers who receive wastewater services from Yorkshire Water but clean water supply from another wholesaler – for example in the south of our region where some customers are supplied by Severn Trent (customers in this area should check with Severn Trent for any restrictions).
If you’re a NAV customer here in Yorkshire, the ban still applies to you and you’ll be contacted directly by your NAV.

What gives you the power to do this?

The Water Industry Act 1991 section 76 as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. Further definitions may be found in the Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010, which is available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2231/contents/made  

As a business customer, am I affected by the ban?

As a business, you will be allowed to use a hosepipe if this is directly related to the use of water for your commercial purposes including for Health and Safety reasons. There are restrictions on you using a hosepipe if not for those essential commercial needs – so using a hosepipe to clean a path outside your business property, for example, would be covered by the ban unless it’s for a Health and Safety reason. There are more specific examples in the questions below and further information on our website.

Now you’ve announced a ban is coming, why are you waiting a few weeks before putting it in place? Why don’t you put it in straight away?

We know a hosepipe ban is inconvenient and putting one in place isn’t a decision we make lightly.

We have been continuously monitoring our water levels, rainfall and other environmental factors to determine when we need to put measures in place to protect water supplies.

When we reach a certain trigger point, we know that we need to take extra measures to make sure that we have enough supply for the essential needs of everyone across the region. Our announcement of the ban right now is based on our prediction for rainfall and for the water levels in our reservoirs and storage facilities continuing to drop over the coming weeks. We are required to advertise a ban in advance of actually implementing, to give customers notice before we put it in place.

How long will the ban last? When will the hosepipe ban finish?

We can’t say for certain, but the ban would need to be in place until we receive significant rainfall and our reservoir levels return to a situation much closer to normal. Obviously, we can’t predict the weather but we will not have the ban in place any longer than is absolutely necessary. We will be closely monitoring this and will keep everyone updated.

But it's raining/has been raining. Surely that’ll help?

Even though we have had some very welcome rain recently, we still need these temporary restrictions. We estimate some parts of our region need a good few weeks of rain before we can be confident we have the reservoir levels we need to see us through the autumn and winter. The longer the rain continues, the sooner we will be able to relax the restrictions.

Does this mean water rationing is on its way?

At the moment, we’re asking customers not to use their hosepipes. We hope this measure will allow our reservoirs to top up and give us enough water to get through the autumn and winter. By reducing water use, we hope to avoid further restrictions. We’ll continue to monitor our reservoir levels, rainfall and other environmental factors to plan the next steps.

What triggers action in a drought?

Water companies use drought triggers to identify and plan how to act in different drought conditions. We monitor rainfall, water levels and other environmental factors to determine when we need to protect water supplies. This is currently a relatively rare event and our last hosepipe ban was in 1996. However, we know that climate change will increase the pressures on our water resources and so our long term Water Resources Management Plan is setting out the investment that we may required to ensure continued resilient supplies into the future.

A hosepipe ban is now known as a Temporary Usage Ban. Further definitions may be found in the Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010, which is available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2231/contents/made

What does it mean domestic customers can and cannot do?

We’ve had an extremely dry spring/summer and, because of this, our reservoir levels are lower than we would like. To ensure we’re able to apply for drought permits this winter, we are putting a hosepipe ban in place from 26 August 2022, which would mean the following activities are prohibited:

  • Watering a garden using a hosepipe
  • Cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe
  • Watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe
  • Cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe
  • Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
  • Drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use
  • Filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe
  • Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain
  • Cleaning walls, or windows, of domestic premises using a hosepipe
  • Cleaning paths or patios using a hosepipe
  • Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe

Customers can still carry out these activities if they use water from a bucket or watering can; or use water that is not sourced from the mains such as grey water, rainwater from a water butt through a hosepipe, or private boreholes for example.

Am I affected by the ban?

As a business, you will be allowed to use a hosepipe if this is directly related to the use of water for your commercial purposes. There are restrictions on you using a hosepipe if not for those essential needs – so using a hosepipe to clean a path outside your business property, for example, would be covered by the ban. There are more specific examples in the questions below and further information on our website.

What if I need to use a hosepipe for my business?

You can use hosepipes and sprinklers where it is directly related to your day-to-day business excluding the watering of gardens. We would however encourage the use of low water usage technology, such as a low water use pressure washer wherever possible.

At what point, if any, will the water resources situation affect businesses and commercial use?

We’re continually monitoring the situation. We are not planning to impose further water use restrictions at the moment. If the dry weather continues for a long time, we may reach the point where further restrictions would be required. We would need a statutory order to put this in place. This is set out in our statutory drought plan.

Water sources

I have a private supply, e.g. borehole, can I still use a hosepipe?

Yes.

I want to make sure I’m prepared for a hosepipe ban in the future. Can you help me with my on-site storage?

This isn’t a service Yorkshire Water provides. Business continuity planning and on-site storage is the responsibility of customers. Your retailer might be able to assist with these services, so please check with them.

Have any reservoirs been taken out of use, expanded, added to the network?

We do periodically take reservoirs out of use, where the costs of maintaining them and keeping them compliant with the Reservoirs Act outweigh the water resources benefits from keeping them.

We expanded Grimwith in the 1980s. We haven’t proposed any new reservoirs in recent years. They are considered as an option in our water resources management plan but we have not had a large enough deficit in our plan to require new reservoirs. We do investigate opportunities for new developments of new in-region and between region connectivity and sources.

Vehicles 

Which vehicles CAN be washed with a hosepipe during the hosepipe ban?

While we’d prefer everyone to use a low water usage apparatus during the ban, such as a bucket and sponge, there are some vehicles which can still be washed with a hosepipe. These are:

  • Public bus
  • Any vehicles covered by an organisations “Goods Vehicle Operator’s License”
  • Military vehicles
  • Snow ploughs and gritters
  • Emergency service vehicles (including those used by gas, electricity, water and telephone companies)
  • Hearses and accompanying funeral cars
  • Recovery vehicles (only if they’re used exclusively for that purpose)
  • Tractors and agricultural vehicles
  • Mobile exhibition vehicles
  • Catering vehicles
  • Mobile shops
  • Mobile medical screening vehicles
  • Any vehicle of over 3.5 tonnes gross plated weight or (where there is no plated weight) an unladen weight of more than 1,525kg to transport goods for hire or reward or in connection with a trade or business
Which vehicles CAN’T be washed with a hosepipe during the hosepipe ban?
  • Private car
  • Taxi
  • Limousine
  • Wedding Car
  • Private hire minibus
  • Private hire coach
  • Any other vehicle including those used in the course of running a business (e.g. white van) that are not covered by the categories listed in question 26 of this section
I manage a local car dealership. Can we still use the jet wash to wash customers’ cars? We normally valet them before they go out.

Hosepipes can be used but only where the vehicles are for sale or where you offer a car wash/valeting service that customers have paid for specifically either as a single service or included in a service package. We would however ask that you look for ways to use your water as efficiently as possible, like using a low volume pressure washer. Hosepipes use hundreds of litres of water an hour.

Can car jet washes, car washes and car valeting businesses use a hosepipe?

Hosepipes can be used for a car wash / valeting service that customers have paid for. We would however ask that you look for ways to use your water as efficiently as possible, like using a low volume pressure washer. Hosepipes use hundreds of litres of water an hour.

I own a limousine company, and need to use a hosepipe to keep these clean. Am I exempt?

Limousines are not exempt. They'd need to be washed by another method such as with a bucket and sponge. We’re not saying you can’t use water; we just want people to use less wasteful methods.

I run a wedding car business and need to keep these clean for someone’s big day. Can I use a hosepipe to do this?

You wouldn't be able to use your hosepipe for this, you'd need to find an alternative way to keep the cars clean.You could use a bucket and sponge or take them to carwash.

We’re planning a charity car wash – and will be using pressure washers. Are we exempt?

Yes, you can hold the car wash as long as you use a low water use apparatus, and not the hosepipe on its own. You could also use buckets and sponges, which are a great way to reduce water usage.

I own a taxi/private hire vehicle, can I use a hosepipe to keep this clean?

You wouldn’t be able to use your hosepipe for this, you’d need to find an alternative way to keep the vehicle clean. You could use a bucket and sponge or take them to a car wash.

Plants & green spaces

Are golf clubs or sports grounds, etc. affected by the ban?

Yes, unless hosting a regional, national or international event.

Specific areas of play, such as the cricket wicket, greens, etc. are able to be watered by a hosepipe to make sure the activity can be carried out safely. Where possible, we would still encourage other means of watering which are not as water guzzling as hosepipes or sprinklers.

All other grass and plants watering in such facilities is covered under the restrictions of the ban and you would not be allowed to use a hosepipe or sprinkler.

I own a garden centre, how am I affected?

If you’re growing these flowers to sell or for commercial use then you can continue to water these with a hosepipe. We would, however, encourage the use of a watering can or other water efficient devices such as drip or trickle irrigation systems, fitted with pressure reducing valves and timers, which are much less water hungry and are exempt from the ban.

If you have a flowerbed on your premises which isn’t for sale then you cannot use a hosepipe for this.

Please note, filling ornamental display ponds or fountains with a hosepipe is also prohibited unless this is necessary to supply sufficient oxygen to the water in a pond to keep fish healthy.

We’re a council and need hosepipes or sprinklers to water hanging baskets and floral displays in our town centre locations or parks.

During the period of the ban, hosepipes and sprinklers cannot be used for watering floral beds or displays or hanging baskets in public locations. We welcome every organisation’s support to use water as efficiently as they can, particularly when it comes to carrying out tasks which are part of regular maintenance activities.

In terms of alternatives to hosepipes and sprinklers, there are products such as drip or trickle irrigation systems, fitted with pressure reducing valves and timers, which are much less water hungry and are exempt from the ban.

We appreciate that local authorities do take their own role in using water as carefully as possible seriously and if activities, such as public garden maintenance or watering town centre floral displays, can be done using alternative means, such as using watering cans, or more water efficient products, then this is welcomed and is allowed to continue during this period of temporary restrictions. Reducing the amount of watering which is routinely undertaken will also be hugely helpful.

I’ve just planted some ornamental plants for a client, can I use a hosepipe/sprinkler to water these?

You have up to 14 days from when these are planted to use a hosepipe or sprinkler, after that you’d need to use an alternative method, such as a watering can or products such as drip or trickle irrigation systems, fitted with pressure reducing valves and timers, which are much less water hungry and are exempt from the ban.

I have to maintain planters containing trees on the side of a highway – can I use a hosepipe for this?

Under the ban, you can’t use a hosepipe for this, you’d have to use an alternative such as a such as a watering can or products such as drip or trickle irrigation systems, fitted with pressure reducing valves and timers, which are much less water hungry and are exempt from the ban.

Why are you allowing cricket pitches and golf courses to be watered? Why is it a health and safety risk?

It’s not about keeping the grass green; the only area that can be watered with a hosepipe is the playing area which could result in a health and safety risk by not maintaining it. This is dictated by the legislation we adhere to.

Are parks covered by the ban?

If it’s a National Plant Collection then its exempt from the ban. For all other parks they are covered by the ban unless its new laid turf (28 days) or newly purchased plants (14 days).

See a list of National Plant Collections

Can I use a hosepipe for my allotment or vegetable garden?

A hosepipe can be used for watering food crops but not for general flowers and plants. Where you can, we’d encourage you to use a watering can to save on the volume of water which is used through traditional hosepipes. It’s best to water in the morning or evening, as that means the water won’t evaporate quickly in the sunshine.

Can I water trees planted in the last three planting seasons?

You may water 'standard' trees planted in the last three planting seasons that cannot reasonably be hand-watered or watered with non-potable water. A 'standard' tree is a tree with a single stem with clear trunk (no side branches) for at least 1.8m above the ground. 

Other questions

What if I use a customer’s’ hosepipe for my business, i.e. to clean wheelie bins, water a customer’s flowers or valet their car?

You can use customers' hosepipes and sprinklers where it is directly related to your day-to-day business excluding the watering of domestic gardens. We would however encourage the use of low water usage technology, such as a low water use pressure washer wherever possible.

I have a stand pipe usage licence – does this affect filling mobile sources up and metering?

Please only use standpipes where absolutely necessary. You can only use specific hydrants at strategic points according to your licence. You must use the hydrants you have been given permission to use to reduce the effect of pressure changes on the network. Make sure your licence is up-to-date and ensure fittings are working properly and not wasting water.

I am developing/extending a house can I continue to use my hosepipe for this?

You can use a hosepipe for activities directly associated with your building work, e.g. mixing cement, but not for cleaning paths and roads unless for health and safety purposes. You can continue to water newly laid turf (until its 28 days old) with a hosepipe.

Why are councils still cleaning windows, buildings and washing public vehicles, etc.?

Not all activities are covered by the temporary ban, e.g. cleaning the windows of non-domestic buildings or washing public service vehicles. However, all water users are urged to conserve water whenever they can and we have given water-saving advice to councils and other commercial customers.

We are a window cleaning business – how are we affected?

If you own a window cleaning business, you are exempt from the ban.

Can a council park use their water play area during the hosepipe ban?

A park water play area is exempt as it’s not a domestic pool or domestic recreational area, but we’d clearly welcome any measures the council could take to reduce water wastage during the ban.

Can I use a hosepipe to fill the trough for my animals?

Yes, you can use a hosepipe to fill the trough for your animals.

We have an ornamental fountain/water feature which we operate in public parks and town centres. Are these exempt?

You cannot fill or maintain an ornamental fountain/water feature with a hosepipe while the ban is in place.

I need to use a hosepipe to wash out an engine, can I do this?

Yes, this is exempt from the ban.

Can I carry out fire sprinkler testing and flow testing of fire hydrants?

Yes, this activity isn’t prohibited by the ban.

Will this have any impact my commercial water bill?

You need to contact your retailer to discuss any implications the ban may have on your bill. Since April 2017 all business customers in England are served by licensed retail providers. You will be able to find details of who your retailer is on your water or sewerage bill, if you’re unsure of who this is we can tell you.

What can I do to reduce my consumption? Is there anything I can do to help?

Simple ways you can help include:

  • Check for leaks and repair any dripping taps or loos used in the workplace
  • Encourage employees to look at ways to use less water in the workplace and ask them to turn off hosepipes, report any leaks and identify any processes that could be wasting water
  • Employee suggestion schemes can help to identify water saving ideas which could save the business money
  • If your business has any grassed areas, please avoid using sprinklers. Lawns will soon green up again once it rains

Take a look at our water saving tips

I’ve got a leak on my site. Can you come and fix it?

Your retailer maybe able to help with this, or you may need to appoint a contractor to do this for you. This isn’t something that Yorkshire Water would help you with if the leak is on your site.

Read our plumbing advice

How we enforce the ban

What gives you the right/authority to ban hosepipe usage?

These prohibited water uses are covered by the Water Industry Act 1991 section 76 as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. Further definitions may be found in the Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010, which is available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2231/contents/made 

What action will you take if I do use a hosepipe?

We hope that our customers would respect the ban, if not we do have the ability to enforce the ban and customers could be subject to a £1,000 personal fine. Many customers have already voluntarily been cutting back on using water guzzling devices to do their bit and we are really grateful for that.

How can you enforce this?

We are asking our customers to help us by abiding by the hosepipe ban and hope that they will. The Act does give us powers to fine customers who ignore it up to £1,000 but we hope it won’t come to that. Even so, it’s important people respect the ban when it is in place from 26 August 2022. It is only temporary and normal service will resume as soon as we can.

Are you asking your customers to report their neighbours if they see them breaking the ban?

We will be asking everyone to adhere to the ban. If we are told repeatedly about someone breaking the ban, the first thing we do is remind them of their obligations. This is usually enough. However, if they continue to use a hosepipe then we are able to write further, visit, or they can be fined £1,000.

Will Yorkshire Water have patrols on the streets when this ban comes in?

Our staff are regularly out and about as part of their day-to-day work. If they spot people breaking the ban as they go about their day-to-day jobs, they may speak to them or we may send them a letter reminding them of their obligations.

What do I do if I think I’m an exception to the ban?

If you think you should be an exception to the ban you need to contact us.

Are Yorkshire Water employees being encouraged to report people?

We know that lots of our customers use water wisely all year round and we hope they will help us to protect our water resources by adhering to the ban. We’re not asking anyone to report their neighbours or people they see, but our colleagues may remind people of the ban whilst they’re out and about doing their day-to-day jobs.

Our ultimate aim is to save water and protect our supplies, so if we can ask people to think about using water wisely first, that’s always our best option. Part of our job is to increase understanding about why we’ve had to take this step and it’s sometimes that people may just not be aware.

Our employees are passionate about the jobs they do and may choose to speak to family, friends and neighbours to remind them about the hosepipe ban, explain the reasons for it and let them know what they can do – such as watering their garden using a watering can.

I’ve heard that normally no one is ever prosecuted, despite several people being caught. Is this likely to change given the current situation or is this merely words to act as a deterrent?

We do have the power to enforce the ban and we have set up a process to deal with those breaching it. We would prefer not to have to use this and would hope customers would work with us and respect the ban, recognising it’s been put in place to protect essential supplies. We know that lots of our customers have already been doing their bit while this hot weather continues and we are really grateful for their continued support in using water more carefully.

How have you decided who is an exception to the ban?

We have taken the exceptions from the UKWIR Code of Practice and Guidance on Water Use Restriction report (Reference 09/WR/33/2). 

Where does the £1,000 fine go?

If you break the restrictions put in place by the hosepipe ban, then you may be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine. This fine would go to the Treasury.

Why are areas like York, which gets most of its supply from rivers that are still healthy, included in the ban?

York does get water the majority of its water from the Ouse in normal circumstances, but it is also part of our wider water supply network, so would see restrictions if they are brought into place.