Thames Water Hosepipe Ban Restrictions 2012

Updated 26/03/2012

This is the statement Thames Water have made regarding their hosepipe ban water restrictions starting on April 5th 2012.

We will now use this page as the definitive guide on Thames Water’s restrictions and exemptions. Please therefore refer back here if you have seen something contradictory on another part of our site which may have been written when other rules applied.

You may comment or ask questions using the comments box at the bottom of this page.

Thames Water’s statement:

Thames Water Utilities Limited gives notice to all of its customers, that the potable* water it supplies throughout its entire area must not be used 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 (except when using hand held containers filled directly from a tap);
  6. drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use;
  7. filling or maintaining a domestic pond (excluding fish ponds) 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.

[Note: Items in bold lettering have been added after the initial statement was made]

It is an offence to contravene this prohibition. The maximum penalty for each offence is £1,000.

Definition of a garden

A “garden” includes all of the following: a park; gardens open to the public; a lawn; a grass verge; an area of grass used for sport or recreation; an allotment garden, as defined in section 22 of the Allotments Act 1922; any area of an allotment used for non-commercial purposes; and any other green space.


i. using a hosepipe in a garden or for cleaning walls or windows of domestic premises, paths or patios, a private leisure boat or an artificial outdoor surface, where such use is necessary for health and safety reasons.
ii. 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.
iii. 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.
iv. using a hosepipe to water 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.
v. drip or trickle irrigation watering systems, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, 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.


The seven-day consultation period to make representations about this notice has now closed.

If, as a result of the representations, any terms of the prohibition are varied, a further notice will be published. The restriction will come into force at midnight on 4 April 2012 and will remain in force until further notice.

It is an offence to contravene this prohibition. The maximum penalty for each offence is £1,000.
* Water treated to drinkable standards.

Contact details here: Thames Water Contacts

165 Comments on Thames Water Hosepipe Ban Restrictions 2012

  1. elderly people cannot remember all the instruction why cant we make a hard copy

  2. Hi

    You can print this page through your browser. Try Tools/Print if in Internet Explorer, or use the keyboard short cut, holding Ctrl and P at the same time.

  3. Jill Nicholas // March 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm //

    Am I allowed to fill a water butt with a hosepipe, so that I can then water my allotment with a watering can from the butt? The tap is a long way from my plot and I will be unable to carry heavy watering cans from the tap, but I am quiet qilling to carry them from the waterbutt. This is effectively just moving the location of the tap. We are not allowed any kind of shed on the allotments, so I have no means of filling the butt from rainwater.

    • Similarly, I’ve just installed a lawn for people who live in a 4th floor flat. I assume it will be legal for them to drop a hosepipe out of their window to fill watering cans at ground level to then carry about 30mtrs to water their garden.

      • Hi Frank

        We don’t see any problem with that under Thames Water’s rules.

        • Thanks, they’ll be relieved to hear that!

        • This is a really helpful site. Please can I confirm two points that you have made in response to other people’s questions.
          1. I am allowed to use a hosepipe to water pots
          2. I am allowed to fill the watering can from the hosepipe (my water company is Thames Water

    • Hi Jill

      Thames Water haven’t specified you can’t do that, though some water companies are saying it’s not allowed to fill a container using a hosepipe. Might be worth contacting Thames to clarify.

  4. If we get rain in April, will the hose pipe ban be lifted? How much rain do we need to get, and over what period, for the ban to be lifted?

  5. So what are those people to do that have a large pond with expensive Koi fish in that need regular maintainance of the filters etc?
    Lugging buckets of water up the garden for someone with a disability or heart condition would be very difficult.
    Do they just sit back and watch their fish die or face a £1,000 everyday?

    A small gold fish pond is not the same as a large pond with filters that keep the large koi fish. The filters need to be rinsed out regularly. This only takes a short while with the hose and is not even the length of a four minute shower.

    Perhaps Thames water should tell people not to keep having baths and showers every night.
    When we were growing up in the 1950s to 1970s we only ever had a bath on a Sunday night, the rest of the week we had a strip wash at the sink.

  6. Lyn

    Anglican Water allows you to fill ponds if they have fish or other aquatic animals living in them. Try ringing Thames water and asking them if they have the same policy, they probably do.

    “Lugging buckets of water up the garden for someone with a disability or heart condition would be very difficult.” See the exemptions above – blue badge holders can use a hosepipe.

    Alternativly go and buy a very large water butt and a submersible pump. Much cheaper than Koi carp and anybody who can afford a Koi carp pond should have no problem funding a rainwater harvesting system.

  7. What about for cleaning out animals? I have chickens and clean their housing once a week. Will I be able to use a hose? My hose has a trigger on it so water only flows when valve is open.

  8. Thank you, I couldn’t see it mentioned in the exemptions above.

  9. Can you use a pressure washer to clean patios as i have algae that makes it

  10. Does the exemption in v. also apply to pressure hoses? I assume it does not, but would like to be sure. j.

    • Hi Jasmine

      No exemptions for pressure washers in general no. Classed as a hosepipe if connected to the mains.

  11. We are a refrigeration company that uses pressure washers to deep clean customers icemakers due to health risks as ice is classed as a foodstuff. Will we be able to carry out this work

  12. I have a veggie plot and a greenhouse in my garden. Can I use a hosepipe to water these?

    • Hi Don

      I’m afraid the only thing you can water with a hosepipe is anything in a pot or hanging basket.

  13. For the past few years I’ve been using a submersible pump to pump used bath water out into the garden. As I use a hose pipe attached to the pump will the ban mean I will no longer be able do this while it is in effect?

    • Hi Mat

      No problem for you to continue doing this. The hosepipe ban only refers to connecting to mains water.

  14. Hi, I sell, service and repair spas/hot tubs for as the main part of my business. Is it still OK to fill the spas after a service and for new deliveries?

    • Hi Gig

      We’re not sure about this specific case but think you’d be OK as you’re doing it as part of a business. Best to contact your local water company directly to make sure.

  15. Hi
    I have planted last December approximately 950 trees and bushes in a one and a half acre field.
    We were intending to water them sometime in April, would this still be ok to do?

    • Hi Peter

      On the face of it, no. You must contact Thames Water directly and seek their permission to do this.

  16. Love exemption no.4, londons making sure tje olympics don’t suffer. No doubt one of the main reasons we will have a shortage!

  17. We have just been told by our allotments officer that we cannot use a hosepipe to fill watering cans to water the plot, Is this true?
    Our allotments are in London N6

  18. Steve Meredith // March 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm //

    I have a small area of grassy lawn at the back of my house aprox 32sqm where my dogs have to use it to play poo and wee so as the rain stops coming will it be ok for me to rinse this down with a hose. I would class it as animal welfare issue and also if we were to sit on the lawn without it being clean surely it would pose a health and safety risk. I wouldn’t be watering the lawn as much as I would be keeping it clean. Would this be justified under the regulations for using a hose during a ban? Thank you in advance

    • Hi Steve

      Yes this should be classed as both an animal welfare and human health issue. Some water companies have specified that a hosepipe can be used for cleaning dog mess.

  19. I have been told that over – 65s can use a hose to water garden pots.
    Is this true?

    • Hi John

      Some water companies have said anyone can water pots and hanging baskets with a hosepipe but Thames haven’t been so specific. May be worth contacting them directly.

  20. Is it okay to attach a hosepipe to a watering can and water plants that way?

  21. 4. cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe;

    I have a sea going leisure boat (24ft motor boat) that I use for fishing, and after a fishing trip the boat has fish blood and scales on the deck as gut and fillet my catch for the table also washing of the salt residue from the cabin and bow. .

    Its it ok to use the hosepipe to wash down my vessel to protect from corrosion and the blood scales etc?

    • Hi Chris

      According to the rule you point out, no you can’t clean your boat with a hosepipe unless it is part of a business operation.

  22. can I use basket and planter nozzles (not spray) on my water irrigation system to water pots, baskets, grow bags and top the pond up?

    • Hi Paul

      No. Thames Water would deem you to be altering your irrigation system to mimic a hosepipe.

  23. Regarding your last answer does this section not cover me for my request?

    v. drip or trickle irrigation watering systems, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, 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.

  24. Cool, thanks for your help.

  25. I have just had my lawn re-turfed at great expense. Can I water it with the sprinkler?

    • Hi Jo

      Based on the rules above, no you can’t. I’d phone them up and ask for an exemption though as some water companies are allowing 28 days watering for new lawns.

  26. Stelios Pavlides // March 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm //

    What is the situation with sports clubs (golf greens, bowling greens, tennis lawn courts, tennis clay/shale courts)? Does it depend on the club status, i.e. fully commercial or charitable or other? [Exemption iv not very clear on this, reply per individual club type, please].

    • Hi Stelios

      Unless the sports field is used for national or international level sports it can’t be watered. Regardless of being commercial or charitable.

      • Stelios Pavlides // March 30, 2012 at 11:11 am //

        Concentrating on exemption iv, it refers to ‘a national or international event’, not ‘national or international level sports’ as you say. Does this then mean that Wimbledon, say, cannot water its courts after the two Wimbledon weeks?

        Further, does an ‘event’ cover not just a tournament happening inside 2-3 weeks but a league situation when matches are spread over a whole season?

  27. Are we allowed to water our newly laid grass with a sprinkler? i have been told we have 28 days from when it was first laid, is that correct?

    • Hi Catherine

      Thames are not giving 28 days but some other water companies are. Try phoning them and see if they let you.

  28. Tanya Grainger // March 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm //

    We are just having our garden landscaped and are due to have new turf on 30 x 30 feet after the ban starts.
    We are not allowed to even walk on the new grass for 3 weeks – is there anything we could do or the whole thing will just die?
    Does the ban apply even to the gardener who’s doing the job, could he come every evening and use the hose?

    • Hi Tanya

      See my answers just above your question to Catherine and Jo.

      No, your gardener is not allowed to do it either.

  29. Hi I have a small pool in the garden if I fill it before the ban starts can I then maintain the water level by filling a bin and topping it up, obviously I have not used a hosepipe.

    • Hi Andy

      Have a look at clause 5) above which doesn’t even mention a hosepipe. You simply can’t do it at all.

  30. I clean patio`s , drives etc as part of my services as a self employed sole trader through out the uk can i still draw water from a domestic tap using a hose connected to my pressure washer.

    • Hi Bob

      The tricky part of this is the connecting to a domestic tap. When cleaning paths and patios to reduce health and safety issues (stop them being slippery for instance) you are allowed to connect to a tap. If it’s just cosmetic cleaning, a private person can’t connect to a tap to do it, but it’s unclear if a business can. You’d be best off contacting your local water company for clarification.

  31. Breckland Counsel (Norfolk) only allow blue badge holders to use a hosepipe if they live alone.

  32. N0 8. No maintaing a water fountain?? I have a self contained waterfall so I do not need to top up and only use the existing water circulated from a tub. This is not using additional water.

    What is my position regarding this ban please?

    Mr optomistic

    • Hi Keith

      A little obscure to compare with the rules above I’m afraid. Best to ask the water company.

  33. Due to large antennas above my home, I have a lot of bird droppings on my patio on a daily basis. I usually pressure wash once forttnightly. Will I be able to carry on this practice on enviromental health and safety grounds? Also, does the 28 day new lawn rule apply to seeding as well as turves? I also notice that the ban comes in before the Bank holiday weekend, so no point spending more money on plants then. Nursery growers will go bust. Great timing…not!

    • Hi Steve

      Yes you’d be fine hosing on health and safety grounds. You need to contact Thames yourself regarding exemptions for turf or seeded lawns watering.

  34. Hi
    I have managed to connect a hose to our bath drain , will there be any problems using waste shower water to water the garden

  35. I have an irrigation system in my garden which runs off the mains – is tht coered by the ban please ?

  36. Can I use my pressure washer if it’s connected via a suction hose to a bucket full of water???

    • Hi Save

      Been allowed in the past but no company seems to be talking about it this time so you should ask them directly.

  37. I’m a gardener and am laying new turf on Thursday for a customer will they they ve allowed to water it for the first 2 weeks using a hose?

  38. Can I use a helicopter to collect water from my local reservoir and dump it on my garden?

  39. My husband has a commercial business where he needs to use a hosepipe on the customers premises to do things such as mix concrete, clean down equipment and the customers property etc for building works. Is this permitted?

  40. So am I right if a person lives in my house with a blue badge we are allowed to use the hose

  41. So if he uses the hose to water plants he has planted he will be ok

  42. I have a hose pipe that connects to my cold water cistern tank rather then directly to the mains, as the cistern tank water is not of potable standard am I right to assume I could use my hose pipe if I wanted to?

  43. water wanter // April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm //

    My local park has just raised money and planted a whole bunch of new trees. Will the park keeper be allowed to water them. Also, can we fill buckets in the kitchen and carry them outside?

    • Hi Water Wanter

      No the park won’t be able to do that unless they are given an exemption by Thames Water. Yes you can fill in the kitchen and take them outside.

  44. We have a very long garden with a greenhouse and vegetable patch at the bottom. Are we permitted to fill a watering can at the bottom of the garden using a hosepipe rather than having to walk the length of the garden with a full watering can? Effectively we are just extending the outside tap to the end of the garden by doing this. Does rule this out? It seems illogical.

    • Hi Jim

      The water companies can apply all or some of the rules made in the government’s legislation. Some water companies are showing that particular piece of legislation in their notices and some aren’t. Thames Water aren’t so we presume doing what you want is allowed under them.

      However, this is another of the many things we want to clear up over the next few days by speaking to the water companies.

      • Update: Under Thames Water rules you cannot fill a watering can/buckets using a hosepipe.

        • Thanks “Hose”. It seems we’re slowly going to growing longer arms this summer! Still seems illogical. They may as well try arguing that the pipe under my kitchen floor which feeds water to the outside tap is a hosepipe! 😉 Perhaps I should run domestic copper pipes down my garden to a standpipe.

  45. If you fill a watering can direct from a tap, that is ok? But not if you fill with a hose? The volume of water used is the same so what is the difference?

  46. “Under the fifth exemption ˜filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool’ we have clarified this does not include using hand held containers filled directly from a tap.”

    Taken from Thames Water website

  47. I’m a chauffeur so my car is not a private car, does thet mean i can use a hosepipe to clean it

  48. Hey
    I’ve got a problem, as I have just laid down about 90ft of lawn today, and it is going to need watering. It will be incredibly difficult to do this through a watering can, is there no possible exception?

  49. Hi,

    Is there an expected length of the ban?

    I appreciate that this is hard to predict (rain required!) but I would be really interested to hear if there is currently a forecast for how long the ban will be in place.

    Thank you.

  50. Hi just looked at the Thames website, and under the section marked Frequently asked questions and then WHAT CLARIFICATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE TEMPORARY USE BAN Under the fourth exemption relating to national and international sporting events, the exemption has been amended to clarify that a list of qualifying sporting events is available on the website and will be updated as and when required.
    Under the fifth exemption ˜filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool’ we have clarified this does not include using hand held containers filled directly from a tap.

    Under the seventh exemption ˜filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe’we have clarified that this excludes fish ponds.

    Therefor fish ponds are OK 🙂

  51. Hi, I have an aviary with about 60 birds, I usually hose the aviary out to provide a clean environment for the birds & remove potentially harmful dust and excrement. Can I continue to do so for animal welfare.

    • Hi John

      As long as you can demonstrate it’s for animal welfare issues and that it can’t practically be done any other way you should be alright.

  52. Hi
    I have a large dog (55kgs) who requires a medicated shampoo every week or so. He is way too big for the household bath and I usually use the garden hose on a mixer tap. Am I still permitted to do this during a hosepipe ban? (Thames water)

  53. Hey
    I’ve got a problem, as I have just laid down about 90ft of lawn today, and it is going to need watering. It will be incredibly difficult to do this through a watering can, is there no possible exception?

  54. Hi Hose.

    Our garden has to have new turf laid as it has been reduced to mud after six months of bulding work. Turf needs to be watered every day – which obviously is going to cause a problem. one of the turf companies we’ve approached to quote ahs said that if you lay turf, you are exempt from the ban for 28 days. Is this true? If not, I have noticed that the restrictions make specific reference to hosepipes – would a sprinkler be permissable under the current terms? Or can we employ someone (garden services, for example) to come and water it for us?


    • Hi Amanda

      The turf company may be using old information as Thames Water will not allow the watering of new turf with hosepipes, sprinklers etc. Only buckets/watering cans.

  55. We have a commercial swimming pool that is having the tile grout replaced and is therefore empty at present. Will we be able to re-fill the pool once the grouting is finished and has dried?

    • Hi Steve

      Should be able to as a commercial enterprise, but I’d advise checking with your local water company.

  56. Still totally unclear if you can fill a watering can from a hose pipe

  57. But meant to say seem you can use hose to water pots and hanging baskets? So confuising

  58. Hi,

    Can I walk around the garden watering from a watering can, with the hose pipe filling up my watering can contuniously as I walk.

    I cant see anything about filling the watering can so this must be allowed.


  59. Hi

    Can I use a hose to water the garden which is attached to a pump which pumps water up from wells under the ground in our garden? These wells always seem to have water in them and are not connected in any way to the mains water supply.


    • Hi Sarah

      This is usually fine, though you may want to clarify with your local water company. Sometimes issues can arise over the source of the well and if taking water from it will take water from elsewhere.

  60. I jetwash the garden once a week to clear up my dogs mess as we have a large dog and a small grand-child who plays in the garden. Will I still be able to do this whilst the hose pipe ban is on. I live in the Croydon area.

  61. Good news for pond fish in the Thames Water area. On the Thames Water website, under frequently asked questions (What clarifications have been added to the Temporary Use Ban) they state “Under the seventh exemption ‘filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe’ we have clarified that this excludes fish ponds.” Our koi carp will survive!

  62. dave collins // April 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm //

    Hi,can i use a hosepipe to fill the water tank on my motorhome,the water is used for washing/cooking etc.

  63. Hi

    I understand that domestic ponds cannot be replensihed during the band, we have noticed that this year we have a great crested newt, that is possibly using our pond/surrounding area as a breading ground, does the restrictions still apply as GSN’s are a protected species?

    • Hi Lucy

      As long as you can prove it’s an animal welfare issue you are allowed to top up your pond with a hosepipe.

  64. If I were to attach the inlet for my pressure washer to my water butt which gather rain water from the roof, would this be allowed?

  65. Can you please clarify that my blue badge holding next door neighbour can do anything with her hose pipe but I can’t? Does this mean that she can water her flowers,lawn and fill a paddling pool for her son?

    • Hi Stuart

      She can only water the garden with a hosepipe as a blue badge holder, not fill a paddling pool.

  66. Hi Hose
    I sell plants in pots and containers plus hanging baskets . I also have Nursery stock . It’s not a registered business as such but I have done this for twenty odd years. This year have spent thousands expanding the drive and had cold frames and lots of staging built to display my plants all in various size pots. Can I use a hosepipe to water them ?
    Regards Anne

    • Hi Anne

      I don’t think you’ll be able to do this with a hosepipe as not being a registered business. Probably a good idea to ask Thames Water.

  67. I have a hot tub due for delivery & instalation by the supplier, can there fill the tub using the hose pipe at our premises?

  68. We have a community garden on a city farm. The hosepipes will obviously be used for the livestock. Will the garden which supports volunteers be included in the ban?

    • Hi Lu

      Worth checking with Thames perhaps but I wouldn’t have thought you’d be exempted.

    • You might like to check whether any of your volunteers are Blue Badge holders – they MIGHT be allowed to use a hosepipe while working in the garden. You’d need to confirm that with Thames.

  69. I run a small landscape gardening company…I need to use water for my business to survive.
    1. Can we use it for our concrete and mortar.
    2. much of my yearly profit depends on me selling plants…am i allowed to water these after they are incorporated into a garden scheme to ensure they survive ?
    3. I have 4 turfing jobs that are now in the balance as my customers are unsure as to whether they can water the new lawn to help it establish…am i allowed to water it for them ?
    4. I install irrigation systems…am i allowed to use mains water to test them ?

    • 1. OK
      2. Not with a hosepipe, OK with a watering can
      3. No watering of new lawns with hosepipes – either you or your customers
      4. As long as they are of approved type, see section v. above in Exceptions

  70. Hi I work for a gardening company who works in lots of private gardens, are we exempt from the ban or not? Thanks.

  71. I am unclear on a point, can I top up my waterbutt (which I draw water into a can to water my Veg) with a hose as its 125′ from a tap

  72. just been wathcing sky news and there was a water sprinkler flat out doing the grass outside the houses of paliment?? takes the piss!!!

  73. I have a pond with four huge fish and many small ones. Am I allowed to top up during the summer?

  74. Hi,
    can I use a hozelock aquapod with a hose which drips water straight into the soil?

    under this exemption: v. drip or trickle irrigation watering systems, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, 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.

    many thanks

    • Can’t answer for the specific model but as long as it meets the criteria given, you can use it.

  75. Anna Christiansen // April 3, 2012 at 3:04 pm //

    I work in a restaurant where cobbles need cleaning every week from food debris etc as it is a vermin issue. Can we continue to use a jetwash or hosepipe as this is a big area and is quite a big job already having to move furniture etc. Also we open at 9am, close at 11pm ish so needs to be done very early in the morning.

  76. I am stunned that domestic ponds are included in the ban. How are we supposed to keep the fish alive as the pond dries out?

  77. Hi John

    I have a garden that’s not directly attached to my flat I have to go out my front door undo two lock walk down a alleyway through a downstairs garden to get to mine, I normally throw a hose pipe out the second floor window to water my plants will i be expected to make 10 trips up stairs and down stairs to be able to water my plants, is there any other way is there another solution ?

  78. hi

    i think I am in the Thames water area but have not had any letter, or flyer, saying that the ban affects me. If they have not corresponded with me, does this mean the ban does not apply to me?

    • Water companies need to publish an up-coming ban in two local papers and their website by law. You’d need to contact them for advice.

  79. Hi
    I’ve been told that the Lawn association have an agreement with Thames water that you can water a new lawn for 28 days after installation with a hose (even if there’s a hosepipe ban)? They are doing this tomorrow and its costing me £2,500 (its nearly half an acre) so I’d like clarification please?

    • No, unless this is very recent news that we don’t know about. Please contact Thames for clarification.

  80. Can you still fill up buckets up with water out of the tap

  81. Hi,
    I belong to a Private Bowling Club. Will they be able to water the green and keep the green as it is supposed to be kept

  82. We jet wash our courtyard in SE1 which is a business. is this still ok?

  83. Dear Hose,
    I’m confused,
    It’s a business that creates revenue when in use?
    Are you sure its banned?

  84. will tescos still be able to wash private cars in thier car parks

  85. supermarket car park washes use a hose pipe to connect to their pressure washers therefore i take it we will be able to use our pressure washer at home after all we are all in this together ?

  86. Questions are now closed for this section as the same questions have been answered many times. Please look through the previous questions and read the rules written at the top of the page.

Comments are closed.