Is there a hosepipe ban?

Yes, the hosepipe ban started on 26 August.

Buttersly Marsden

You’ve heard of dry January – well, in Yorkshire, we’ve had dry March, April, May, June and July. Things weren’t much better in August and Yorkshire is now in a drought.

While our teams are out 24/7 fixing leaks and looking after your water, we’re asking for your help to use less water.

To ensure we’re able to apply for drought permits this winter, a hosepipe ban is now in place which means 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.

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.

Find out how the ban affects your business

 

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  

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.

How much do we expect the hosepipe ban to save?

Hosepipes use large amounts of water so we’re hoping that if our customers stop using them, we’ll be able to save more water. We also need to put the ban in place so we’re able to apply for drought permits over the winter.

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

Why are businesses treated differently?

Legally some business activity is exempt from the TUB. This is to prevent economic harm and also takes into account companies health and safety and other legal obligations many business also invest in low water pressure apparatus and water recycling which means they are more water efficient.

This is based on the Water Act plus industry guidance which has incorporated consultation with trade organisations impacted by previous droughts. For example car washes, National Plant Collections and watering active parts of sports grounds is exempt from the TUBs.

Read our information for business customers

Is the Whitby area included in the hosepipe ban?

We’ve included the Whitby area in our hosepipe ban as we collectively need to do everything we can to help us preserve our water stocks during this period of extended dry weather. To help make sure everyone in Yorkshire has enough water, we manage our water resources on a regional level and look at Yorkshire as a whole.

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.

As a company, can Yorkshire Water impose a ban on hosepipe use when the customer is on a meter for their property water usage? Surely, if they pay as they use then restrictions and bans of this nature are invalid?

We can impose a hosepipe ban on metered customers under Sections 76 and 76A–C of the Water Industry Act 1991. As a metered customer, you only pay for what you use so we’d really hope that our metered customers see the benefits of not using a hosepipe – not only will it save lots of water it will also save money at the same time.

Are you still using jet washes to clean up after your work?

Given we work on sewers and sewage escapes, what we do can get a bit unsightly! With that in mind though, the only time we’ll be using jet washes for the duration of the hosepipe ban will be on specific occasions where there is a public safety or hygiene risk. For other work that needs to be cleaned we’ll be using buckets of water and brushes to help save water.

Water sources

Can I use a hosepipe to transport rainwater from a water butt?

Yes.

If I fill my watering can up with my hosepipe have I broken the ban?

Yes – the ban includes using a hosepipe to fill a container with water supplied by Yorkshire Water, such as from the tap. You can use a hosepipe to fill your can up from another source – like a rainwater butt or private borehole supply.

Is it safe to use the dish or shower water on my plants?

There is lots of helpful information about re-using water for gardening on the RHS website: www.rhs.org.uk  

Plants can be watered with shower, bath, kitchen and washing machine water (from rinse cycles). There should be no problem with small-scale, short-term use of dish or shower water to tide plants over in summer drought. An exception is on edible crops, due to the risk of contamination from pathogens in the water.

I have my own private supply, but it’s starting to dry up. Can you help?

Please contact your local authority as they’ll be able to help.

Can I take water from a lake or river and use my hosepipe from this source rather than the tap?

We can’t give permission for you to do this. You would have to contact the Environment Agency.

What’s our reasoning for decommissioning reservoirs and how many have we decommissioned in the last ten years

As reservoirs are big structures, we have to monitor their structural safety very closely. We have independent engineers conduct statutory safety inspections (under the Reservoirs Act legislation) where we’re advised on recommendations for mandatory works to keep the reservoir safe. On the odd occasion, the cost of making the structure safe outweighs the benefit of keeping the reservoir, so we may make a decision to reduce the size of the reservoir or decommission it completely. We wouldn’t do this if it put our water resources storage at risk, and we’re comfortable with the amount of storage we have in our system.

Since 2012 we’ve decommissioned three reservoirs: Ten Acre, Beaver Dyke and Oakdale Upper.

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.

Home & garden

Will I be able to water my garden with a sprinkler?

No. Sprinklers are covered by the ban. In just one hour a sprinkler uses as much water as a family of four would typically use in a day. It would be great if you could use a watering can instead. There is advice on the RHS website about how to care for lawns, for example, during hot spells the advice is that grass can be left to turn brown as it will bounce back to green once the rains return.

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.

I’ve spent a lot of money on my garden/allotment – if it all dies are you going to reimburse me?

You will still be able to water your garden using a watering can.

Will I be able to fill a hot tub?

No, as hot tubs hold large amounts of water like paddling pools, customers can not fill them up.

I’ve just had turf laid. I need to water it, otherwise it’s a waste of money!

Under the terms of the hosepipe ban, you can water newly laid turf for 28 days with a hosepipe. However, we would hope that anyone who needs to do so would respect the spirit of the ban and consider how you can use water wisely whilst doing so.

I am developing/extending my 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.

I’ve put grass seed down, can I water this with a hosepipe?

You can water your grass seed for the first 28 days with a hosepipe, after that you’ll need to use a watering can. Please use the hosepipe sparingly and try to use it for a short amount of time. If it’s raining one day, think about whether you need to use your hose.

I have a grass roof, can I use my hosepipe to water this?

As not watering your grass roof could have health and safety implications, you are allowed to continue to use your hosepipe to do this.

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. 

Vehicles

Will I be able to wash my car?

We’re encouraging our customers to think twice about cleaning their car at the moment. If you still feel you need to wash the muck off, you can still do so with a bucket and sponge. Or you can just give the windows, lights and number plates a quick clean.

Hosepipes use up to 1000 litres of water an hour. A bucket may only use 10 litres. We would really appreciate if everyone could look at ways to use methods which are much less wasteful.

Commercial car wash businesses will still be operating, as the ban currently covers only domestic type uses. We’re working closely with our non-household retailers to encourage businesses to reduce their usage where they can.

Why can the car jet wash use a hosepipe but I can’t? They will use more water than me. And what about commercial car washes? They use loads of water.

Many commercial car washes recycle and reuse water. We need to strike the right balance between water efficiency and ensuring that businesses are not severely impacted. There are some good water efficient products out there which use much less water than a traditional hosepipe. We’re working closely with our non-household retailers to encourage businesses to reduce their usage where they can.

Can I still fill the water tanks on my motor home with my hosepipe?

You can fill up your internal water tanks using a hosepipe at home or on a campsite provided that this water is for domestic use i.e. washing, cooking and flushing toilets. The hosepipe ban does not allow owners to wash the motorhome itself using a hosepipe.

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

No, you can only hold the car wash if you do not use a hosepipe or a pressure washer. You could use buckets and sponges, which are a great way to reduce water usage.

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
Are taxis exempt from the ban?

A taxi is classed as a private motor vehicle and therefore is not exempt from the ban.

Animals & fish

Can I use a hosepipe for my animals (e.g. horses/dogs)?

You can use your hosepipe to clean animals and their areas, e.g. yard or stable. We would encourage you to be as efficient as possible when you do this.

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

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

Can I top up my fish pond?

Yes, filing or maintaining a domestic pond in which fish or other aquatic animals are being reared or kept in captivity is okay.

Exemptions

What about people who are elderly, registered disabled or are a blue badge holder and can’t carry a watering can?

If you are a blue badge holder, on our Priority Services register or our WaterSure tariff for medical reasons, then you will be an exception to the ban. However, we would still encourage you to think about how you could save and re-using water around the home as much as you can.

People should not put themselves at risk unnecessarily. If you know someone who may struggle to use a watering can, they can apply for an exemption.

I’m a Priority Services customer – would this ban apply to me?

No. We are contacting all Priority Services customers proactively to tell them that we would really like their help and if they can refrain from using their hosepipe that would be great but if they do need to use them, they – along with Blue Badge holders – they would be exempt.

Why are Priority Services customers and Blue Badge holders exempt from the ban?

People who are registered disabled, a blue badge holder or a Priority Services customer will be exempt from the hosepipe ban but we would still ask them to be mindful of the amount of water they use. We don’t want anyone to put themselves at risk unnecessarily and recognise that some of these customers will struggle with the restrictions which will be in place as a result of the ban.

I’m a blue badge holder/Priority Services customer, but other people in my house aren’t. Is the entire household exempt from the ban?

No, only the blue badge holder or people registered as a Priority Services customer are covered by the exemption. Our intention is to support those who are unable to use an alternative to a hosepipe.

Bills

Are you going to reduce bills if people can’t use water in the way they want to?

We’re not saying you can’t use the water you need, we’re just trying to stop it being wasted unnecessarily at a time when demand is higher than usual and our reservoir levels are lower than we’d like them to be at this time of year. If you are a metered customer, you only pay for what you use. If you are an unmetered customer you pay a set amount, regardless of what you use, which means that it is normal for increases or decreases in water usage to not be reflected in your bill.

Many customers would be better off on a meter, especially people with more bedrooms than people in the household. You can see whether switching to a meter will lower your bill and apply for a free water meter on our website. Meters are fitted for free and you have two years to switch back to a fixed charge if you decide it isn’t for you.

Find out more about water meters

I am saving water, so how come my bills are continuing to increase?

We’re so happy to hear that you’re helping our community by saving water where you can. We understand that we are in some very challenging times at the moment and we are more than happy to help our customers if their circumstances have changed or if they’re struggling with their bills. 

Read about our help to pay schemes

Are customers going to receive a pro-rata refund for highways and surface water charges as we’ve had no rain?

The charges you pay are worked out on an annual basis and are spread over your bill payments throughout the year. We can’t predict if the weather is going to be drier or wetter than normal for the year. If that year was wetter than normal we wouldn’t increase our charge.

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.