The government has confirmed that the current hosepipe ban rules created in 1945 are to be updated. This is the full statement issued by the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) this morning:
A 62 year old law governing the use of hosepipes in times of drought will be updated following a Government consultation, Environment Minister Phil Woolas confirmed today.
Publishing the consultation response, Mr Woolas said:
“After the appalling floods of 2007 it might be hard to cast your mind back to the real difficulties we faced only a year ago, when 13 million people were affected by hosepipe bans.
“We saw an extreme drought in the south east then, and outdated legislation meant gardeners couldn’t water their plants with a hosepipe but their neighbours could power-wash their patios or fill swimming pools. That situation was clearly inconsistent and illogical.
“Our consultation has shown overwhelming support for a change in the law governing the use of hosepipes. I am very pleased that as a result we have committed to bring in legislation which is bang up to date, reflecting the way we use water today and how that might be affected by drought in the future.”
The previous ban, which was limited to only the use of hosepipes for washing private cars and watering gardens, is to be replaced by a ‘discretionary use’ ban, expanding the range of prohibited hosepipe uses to include, amongst others, operating ornamental fountains and cleaning patios, and the filling of swimming pools and hot tubs, whether by hosepipe or through permanent plumbing.
Whilst the discretionary use ban will concentrate predominantly on the domestic sector, all gardens and hard standings will also be included.
Mr Woolas added:
“The new powers will be less rigid, and will allow water companies to take a more sensitive and more flexible approach, applying some or all of the powers according to local circumstances.
“During periods of drought we are reliant on the goodwill of people to do their bit to conserve water. The response of the people in the south east in 2005 and 2006 was outstanding, and selfless action protected everyone from more severe restrictions. But that goodwill can disappear very quickly when there are blatant anomalies and people feel they are being unfairly singled out. I believe these changes will close that gap.
“Our top priority in times of drought is conserving essential supplies for households – for drinking, washing and cooking. We have to face up to the fact that climate change could make drought more frequent in the future, and that we must be ready with common sense legislation which is fit for purpose. We will now be looking for an early opportunity in Parliament to bring the changes into effect.”
The consultation also considered changes to the Drought Direction 1991 which sets out the water uses which can be restricted or prohibited under Drought Orders. Many water uses specified in the Direction will be moved into the new discretionary use ban.