What is a Temporary Use Ban?

• As of Thursday 5 April 2012, we will need to introduce a Temporary Use Ban (formerly ‘hosepipe’ ban) on domestic customers to combat the effects of an increasingly severe drought.

• Seven water companies in southern and eastern England need to impose the ban following two abnormally dry winters in a row.

• We’re staying on top of leakage and asking customers to use water wisely.


A Temporary Use Ban is authorised by new legislation, replacing the previous provisions relating to ‘hosepipe bans’. When implemented, customers throughout the area

covered must NOT use the water supplied for the following purposes:


1. Watering a ‘garden’ using a hosepipe.

2. Cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe.

3. Watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe.

4. Cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe.

5. Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool.

6. Drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use.

7. Filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe.

8. Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain.

9. Cleaning walls, or windows, of domestic premises using

a hosepipe.

10. Cleaning paths or patios using a hosepipe.

11. Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe.



We have decided to make four exemptions to the Temporary Use Ban.

1. Watering a garden attached to a domestic dwelling or watering plants on domestic premises using a hosepipe, by people with severe mobility problems who hold a current Blue Badge as issued by their local authority.

2. Using a hosepipe to clean a private motor vehicle, or walls and windows of domestic premises, where this is done as a service to customers in the course of a business.

3. Watering an area of grass or artificial outdoor surfaces used for sport or recreation, where this is required in connection with a national or international sports event.

4. Drip or trickle irrigation watering systems that are not handheld, that place water drip by drip directly onto the soil surface or beneath the soil surface, without any surface run off or dispersion of water through the air using a jet or mist.


Definition of a ‘garden’

Under the new Temporary Use Ban legislation, the definition of ‘garden’ has been amended.

A ‘garden’ includes a) a park; b) gardens open to the public; c) a lawn; d) a grass verge; e) an area of grass

used for sport or recreation; f) an allotment garden; g) any area of an allotment used for non-commercial purposes; h) any other green space.

A ‘garden’ does NOT include agricultural land; land used commercially (i.e for growing), a temporary garden or flower display; plants which are in an outdoor pot or in the ground, under cover.

Under the new Temporary Use Ban legislation, the definition of ‘garden’ has been amended and this will particularly affect local authority parks departments. A ‘garden’ now includes a park, gardens open to the public and areas of grass used for sport or recreation.

Since records began in 1884, only 1892-3 and 1920-1 have seen less rainfall.

Leakage from our network is now at its lowest-ever level

The amount of water available for us to supply to customers is largely determined by winter rainfall. Crucially, winter rainfall normally replenishes the underground aquifers that keep the rivers in our region flowing throughout the year.

Although it may have seemed like it didn’t stop raining over the summer, 19 of the last 24 months (as of the end of February 2012) have seen below average rainfall, which has created a severe, cumulative shortage.

As a result, groundwater in some parts of the region is close to the lowest levels ever recorded. And many of the smaller rivers feeding the Thames have fallen to exceptionally low levels for the time of year.

Since we can’t control the weather, or predict how much rain will fall this year, we will need to introduce a Temporary Use Ban for domestic customers from April 2012. We all need to play our part in reducing the amount of water we use.

We’ve cut leakage by a third since its peak in 2004 by replacing 1,400 miles of worn-out Victorian pipes mainly under London. Our leakage figure is now 600 million litres a day, down from over 900 million litres a day.

This is a good start but there’s plenty more to do. That being said, replacing water mains is very disruptive and expensive. We need to get the balance right between reducing leakage and keeping costs and disruption to a minimum.

Our work to reduce leakage puts our customers and the environment in a better position than in the drought of 2006.