South East Water Hosepipe Ban Restrictions 2012

Updated 29/03/2012

This is the statement South East 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 South East 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.

South East Water’s statement:

South East Water gives notice that, pursuant to sections 76 and 76A-C of the Water Industry Act 1991, it prohibits from the beginning of 5 April 2012, throughout its entire area of supply (extending across parts of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire), the following uses of potable water supplied by it (that is water treated to drinkable standards).

A full explanation of the definitions used is given beneath the table.

(a) Watering a garden using a hosepipe
(b) Cleaning a private motor-vehicle (or a trailer for such a vehicle) using a hosepipe
(c) Watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe
(d) Cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe
(e) Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
(f) Drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use
(g) Filling or maintaining a domestic pond (manmade or natural) using a hosepipe
(h) Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain (including a cascade or any other display of moving water, and includes filling by permanent plumbing)
(i) Cleaning walls, or windows, of domestic premises using a hosepipe
(j) Cleaning paths or patios using a hosepipe
(k) Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe


The following will be exempted from the restriction:

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, private leisure boat 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 outdoor artificial 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;

vi) maintaining a domestic swimming pool with a water conservation recycling system;

Customers should note that a number of concessions earlier proposed have been withdrawn. [our highlight]


For the meaning of certain terms used in this notice and specific exceptions from the prohibitions, see the Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010. Amongst other things, that Order defines:

(a) using a hosepipe to include both drawing water supplied by South East Water at the time of the prohibition through a hosepipe from a container and also filling or partly filling a container with such water by means of a hosepipe;

(b) garden to include 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(1) of the Allotments Act 1922, any area of allotment used for non-commercial purposes and any other green space; and

(c) health and safety to include removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety and preventing or controlling the spread of causative agents or disease.

The topping up of an established domestic pond is also permitted if the welfare of fish in the pond is at risk.

For the purposes of the prohibitions relating to the use of a hosepipe, the prohibitions apply whether or not any device such as a sprinkler is attached to the hosepipe.

Any person who contravenes any of these prohibitions is guilty of an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000.

Contact details here: South East Water

135 Comments on South East Water Hosepipe Ban Restrictions 2012

  1. I have a 180 foot garden with a greenhouse and vegetable plot at the bottom can I fill the water but with a hose and then water with a watering can. Thank you.

    • Hi e diamond

      Looking at clause a) just above, it says you can’t do that.

    • Hi thank you for creating this website it does help to understand the ban.

      this is actually more of a comment then a question:

      I do not understand how they can actually change the exemptions as time passes. How they expect anyone to follow the changes I do not understand.

      Also the ban does not apply to businesses, so if I employ a gardener he could come to water my garden with my own hosepipe. Surely I would be more careful with my water usage then someone I employ as I pay for the water being used?

      I would also suggest the rules are open to interpretation such as if I entered an agreement with my next door neighbor he could come and water my garden and me his as this would be a business transaction and thus considered business use.

      One last point, I used to live in the south of France which has much less rainfall then any part of england. Strangely there was never any such ban in place there?

      how does this make any sense?

      • French guy, I have just been told that a gardener although a business can not use a hose pipe.

  2. Hi,
    We saw an article that said we would be able to use drip water feeders on the garden is this correct. We have bought one as we have only just moved and all of our plants are new and not established yet. If so how do we get the water to it without attaching a hose pipe to it ?

    • Hi Felicity

      Have a look in the table above and you can see you’re alright to use a drip system if you are under South East Water. You do attach the hosepipe to it and are allowed to do so.

  3. We have recently created an area which we have seeded with grass. Are we able to water this as though it were turf i.e. for 28 days? Also are your comments official – the reason I ask is that in some areas you are suggesting that we contact the appropriate water board for clarification.

    • Hi Felicity

      Again, looking in the table above shows that in the South East Water region you have 28 days to water new turf and we would suggest this extends to seeded lawns.

      No our comments are not official and you should always seek the advice of your local water company if in doubt.


    On their latest website missive that I read today (29 March 2012) the concession allowing persons over 65 to use a hosepipe for garden watering has been dropped!!

    • Hi John

      Thanks for pointing this out.

      We were in the process of updating our page when your comment was made. The information above is now South East Water’s most up to date ruling and you’re quite right that this and several other concessions have been removed.

  5. Margaret Heap // March 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm //

    I am 68 and believe I can use a hosepipe to water the garden after the ban comes in. Could I use a sprinkler?

    • Hi Margaret

      I’m afraid South East Water have this morning withdrawn their concession to allow over 65s to use a hosepipe. So you will not be able to use a hosepipe or a sprinkler.

  6. Does the hosepipe ban affect the washing of our own commercial vehicles?

  7. Can I fill a paddling pool uisng a bucket? The definition “(e) Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool” appears to rule this out as it is not implicit about the use of a hosepipe

    • Hi Paul

      We agree with your understanding here and say that you can’t. In the past it’s been allowed.

  8. can you use a pool that is already open? we have an automatic top up system so never use a hose. am confused about the term ‘maintain’, as if we don’t maintain the pool water we will have to eventually empty the whole contents and start again , which is considerably more wasteful.

    • Hi David

      I’d say no as you’re not supposed to be filling or topping up at all regardless of hosepipes.

      • Hi Hose,
        Ref. Dave March 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm# who asked about the top up system for his pool, if it has a filtering system and therefore recycles the water, topping up is allowed (exemption vi) is that right ?

        • Hi Giles

          Yes that was added after my original answer. As long as it’s recycling it’s OK to top up. However, not all water companies are stating this so if you’re under South East Water it’s fine, but for other water companies please check.

  9. can I use a hose pipe to flush a boat engine, not to clean the boat, only to flush, which can only be done with a hose?

    • Hi Skier

      Difficult to give a definite answer as nothing like that is covered in any rules, but I don’t see why not. You might want to contact your local water company to check though.

  10. My dog uses the patio as a toilet am I allowed to clean it with the hose?

  11. Hi,

    In reference to 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;

    Do you think I would be allowed to create a DIY watering irrigation system? The system would involve tubing connected to the tap, and with regular holes drilled in to allow water to escape at certain points along the tube.

    Many thanks for your help

    • Hi Charlie

      Not sure to be perfectly honest. They’re being fairly strict on irrigation systems. You’ll have to contact them directly really.

  12. I use a short length of hose pipe to fill a small tank which I then dip my watering can into.It’s a much quicker process than waiting for the watering can to fill direct from the tap. I use no more water….I just save time. Can I carry on with this methed?

  13. Have just read the revised wording! Why is everthing so complicated! So am right in saying that I can now water everything grass seed and plants with a watering can as the new definitions all seem to apply to ‘hose pipe’. Really really really confused now.

  14. I’m a builder and have 2 vans. Are these classed as commercial vehicles?

  15. Thanks for the response. Seems I have just wasted monies on a drip feed system I don’t need.

  16. I have a garden tap which splashes and wastes water, to solve this I fit an 18″ lenght of hose to the tap and put the hose in the can, no wasted water, will I have to remove my hose?

    • Hi Mike

      Based on rules imposed in the past that is fine. However, we don’t see that specified by any water company this year so you may wish to contact them directly to confirm.

  17. I bath every evening and rather than waste the water I would like to siphon it out through the window of the upstairs bathroom using a hosepipe the following morning. We are not on mains drains and have our own septic tank system. Is that allowed?

  18. Can I fill a hot tub up

  19. Old chestnut: What about a pressure washer? A hose is only used as an extention of a domstic water system. By rights I’m am using the pressure washer to wash the car and not the hose. So is it ok or not?

    • Hi Alan

      A pressure washer is classed as a hosepipe if connect to a mains water supply. Hoespipe ban rules therefore apply.

  20. Hi there, i run a small gardening business whereby we have a few jobs booked in for april cleaning customers patios using a pressure washer. Is this allowed?

    • Hi Richard

      As a business you can do that and so can the general public if it can be passed off as a health and safety risk not to.

  21. I am a Limited Company maintaining private lawns – feeding / weed killing etc. Our vans carry c 80 litres of water for spraying products, each van has a water tank currently filled using a hose from various domestic supplies – can we continue to do this ? Thanks for the advice.

    • Hi Andy

      It’s the domestic supply bit that’s tricky. Best to speak to the water company to clarify I think.

  22. Why are my neighbours allowed to use hose pipes to wash their company cars, but I am not permitted to use one to protect the fish in my garden pond?

    Durring the last five years, how much water has been lost by South Easter Water, due to leaks in the distribution system for which they are responsible?

    Over that same period, what proportion of charges imposed on their customers has South Eastern Water reinvested to reduce such leakage?

    How much of the revenue from customers has been invested to increase water storage capacity?

    • Hi Derek

      You can top up a garden pond with a hosepipe if it has fish or other animals in it.

      • Can you please confirm that we can use a hosepipe to top up our pond which is stocked with fish.

        • Hi Jenny

          This is written above “The topping up of an established domestic pond is also permitted if the welfare of fish in the pond is at risk.”

  23. i have ten chickens at the top of my garden can i use a hose pipe to fill there water containers

  24. We run a commercial Garage repairing cars, are we allowed to continue washing customers private cars with a hose?

  25. As I’m committed to having a new lawn laid by a professional company from Monday 2nd April, can I still use a sprinkler/hosepipe to water for the following 28 days in order to protect my investment? I had understood that a concession existed at the time I gave the go ahead to the contractor. Many thanks.

    • Hi Peter

      Not applicable with all water companies. You should contact your local company and ask for an exemption.

  26. My neighbour,s wife has a blue badge and drives a sports car. He waters his grass and washes the cars all the time. Can he continue to do so after the ban or does it need to be the blue badge holder who does the watering. He ignored the last ban… he exempt from this one? Thanks

    • Hi Clare

      If you look at the rules about it states the blue badge exemption is only for the watering of plants and similar things, so they can’t do the car anyway. The gardening side of it must be done by the blue badge holder.

  27. can I fill up my water butt using a hose. Southern water say yes you can, what about south eastern?

  28. We have a number of chickens and cleaning their coop will be a nightmare without the hose and risk an increase of disease. Are we still able to use one to keep them clean and healthy?

  29. Just recently planted fruit trees and newly planted hedging, can we use hosepipe to water these

  30. I see no mention of wells and ground water. The article states potable treated water, does this mean I can still use a hose from a well or other ground water? Thanks for the website its good to have a source of informatrion

    • Hi Mary

      In theory you should have no problem using wells and ground water but we recommend you contact your local water company as in some cases it’s still not allowed to run hosepipes from such sources.

  31. My horse is stabled but not grazed on our property.
    Can I use my hose to do his stable hay and water?

  32. can you fill/top up water in hot tub? got message from swiiming pool chemicals that we can

  33. Is it true that if you are a blue badge holder you are exempt from the hosepipe ban? If so, does the blue badge holder have to do the watering?

    • Hi Sabrina

      True under South East Water. Yes the exemption is for the person with the blue badge only.

      • Are there restrictions for blue badge holders as to what you can water? Is it just plants, or does it apply to everything… i.e. lawns etc? I am not a blue badge holder myself, but I know several people that are, and the topic is bound to crop up with many arguments!

  34. my partner is a window cleaner , he fills the tub in his van with a hose from his parents address can he continue to do this

  35. Comment posted 29th March seems to say that there is a 28 day exemption for new turf – but I can’t see that this is listed in the exemptions. Was that one of the earlier concessions now withdrawn? We have new turf being laid this week.

    • Hi Sam

      Not the case now. Some water companies are allowing it, some aren’t. You’ll need to contact them and ask.

  36. Can I connect a hose to a water butt filled by shower / bath water and rainwater only?

  37. I live in the Newdigate area and have laid new turfs in my garden on the 26th March,
    am I still allowed to water these for the 28 day period from that date by hosepipe to save them from dying ?

    • Hi Patrick

      If you live in the South East Water area you need to contact them and ask for an exemption.

  38. How on earth can they keep changing the exemptions? I have had new turf laid, originally going ahead because I understood there to be a 28 day concession. Now it has been withdrawn? I called south east water they say the final list of concessions will be announced on 5th.


  39. And another thing… if the 28 day concession for turf is not lifted, I’m not about to wave goodby to £1000 worth of new lawn and just have it die. It is not realistic to water a lawn using a watering can, ultimately it needs a certain amount of water but will just take hours and hours to do! Maybe a wheel barrow with holes in the bottom, filled using the kettle.

  40. what are the restrictions for an allotment

    • Hi Trish

      It’s classed as a garden, so same restrictions as above for gardens.

      • We have asked South East Water about the 28 days concession for watering in new turf as we had arranged for new turf to be laid long before the hosepipe ban. We have been told that it no longer applies. We stand to loose a lot of money if the turf dies and it is almost impossible to water it in using a watering can. We understand the importance of saving water but surely a small concession could be made – one week would be helpful as it will take hours to do manually. Incidentally we were told originally that we could water it and then on the same day told otherwise. It did not seem to matter that we would loose money. There’s no meeting people half way!!

        • Hi Anne

          Thanks for letting us know and sorry to hear of your problem.

          A very frustrating part of the ‘consultation period’ is that several important rules have changed, including this with new turf. It’s something we plan to look into this week.

  41. Is the postcode area RG27 0QZ covered by hose pipe restrictions? I saw a map on TV last night outlining the proposed areas and it wasn’t covered?

  42. Is it OK to use a hose pipe to top up a small garden pond with fish?

  43. I can’t believe some of the comments on here. Does no one understand how potentially serious this situation is. The Water companies want to guarantee a supply coming into your home for drinking and batheing, not for washing cars bicycles and laying new turf. The main problem is everyone believes that these things are really in important in life, in the grand scheme of things its not…………… how many of you remeber the drought of 76? Get over yourselves and stop wasting water

    • That is the most sensible post on here! I remember the drought of ’76 and could not agree more.

  44. Is it possible to water a newly seeded lawn in Hertfordshire with a sprinkler?

  45. Can I just double check, if we are using a hosepipe run over the surface for 150 meters for the sole purpose of filling the water buckets for horses in their field that this does not contravene the hosepipe ban?

    • Hi Sue

      For a definitive answer you should contact your local water company. If you can demonstrate this is for animal welfare purposes you should be allowed to do it. However, if the water company feels you can do this without a hosepipe it’s up to them if they say no.

  46. I am not a blue badge holder but do receive attendance allowance, can I use a hose or must I struggle with a watering can.

  47. I have bark down in my garden to stop water evaporation, my cats go to toilet on this bark. In the past I have hosed this down for health reasons as I have a 3 year old who loves to play in the garden. Can I continue to do this?

    • Hi Emma

      The water company will want to know if this is a health and safety issue that can be sorted out with a bucket rather than a hose.

  48. Hello, I have a small garden and have x3 mini jack Russell’s that go to the toilet on the garden limestone paving and bark chip flower beds. I usually pressure wash this clean and then wash it over wiith jeyes fluid for obvious health and safety reasons. Will I still be allowed to do this ? Eastbourne.

  49. Gardening is my business can I use a hose in other peoples gardens to water plants?

  50. Hi,
    I run an off road bike business, and use my own bike when working.
    Can I use a pressure washer on this under the business concession?
    Or the Health & Safety concession, as it’s got to be clean to maintain it properly?

    • Hi Mat

      Tricky one that and you should contact the water company yourself to ask as they may have to exempt you personally, assuming they agree.

  51. I have an outdoor shower up rigged using a hosepipe that i like to use during the warmer months, i wonder what the deal on that would be? I use less water than a regular shower as its a wee bit cold ….thanks for your help … great site

    • Hi Paddy

      Sorry but you’ve got me totally stumped on that one! I’ve certainly never read anything about outdoor hosepipe powered showers being banned. Think you’ll need to ask South East Water directly about that 🙂

  52. Hi, I know someone has already asked about new lawns but I want to be really clear. I had a turf lawn laid last Thursday and was told by the gardener that I should water it every day for two weeks, am I going to be able to do this? Thanks

  53. Hi. I have installed a large rainwater harvesting system which takes all rainwater from my roof to a tank buried in the garden. This tank has an electric pump which delivers water to refill toilet cisterns and also to an outside tap. Can I use a hosepipe from this tap to water my garden?

  54. Guys its all about self self self. If everyone is sensible and saves water then we wont end up with standpipes in the street. It is not the end of the world if the lawn goes brown or a few decorative plants die. Think ahead and dont buy any plants that need lots of watering this summer. My neighbour is busy sprinkling his grass no doubt before the ban even though rain is forecast later, is that really in the spirit of this? It is just like the petrol queues, its all about having no impact on me because I am more important than everyone else. If we are all a bit more careful with water it will help us all, I find it sad that we have become such a selfish country.

  55. Hi,

    We are a landscaping company and have laid a lawn early last week, when your 28 day exemption for newly laid lawns was still applicable. We have now just read that as from the 29th March, the exemption to water newly laid lawns has now been removed.
    Are you still honouring the 28 day exemption for a lawn that was laid previously to your recent update?
    Many thanks

  56. I’m told pensioners are exempt from this ban. Is it true?

  57. I’m thinking of diverting the grey water from bath and sink to a water butt, then using a water butt pump for the lawn.

    As far as I can tell this would be allowed by the rules, however have read some people have had visits in the past with “how do we know you arent just filling the bath up and emptying it to fill the butt”. Which seem silly to me, you make an effort to be green and then are guility until proved innocent.

    According to govournemtn guidelines greywater can be used untreated if used with a few hours. I’m thinking my sons nighly bath can be used to water the new lawn the same night. Would this be allowed?

    Although I do believe they should honour the original 28 day exemption for new lawns. Across the courty people must have spent hundrends of thousands on turf due to that. unfortunatley new turn cannot be left to go brown, that can only be done for an established lawn.

  58. I’m a pensioner living in an upstairs flat. I’ve got a small veg plot, 14′ x 16′, and a water butt. Can I use a hose pipe to fill the butt? There’s no way I can carry water downstairs to my garden.

  59. Hi

    I operate a Chauffeur Company from my home address (3 vehicles).
    Can I wash my vehicles using a hosepipe as it’s for business purposes?

    • Not from your home address. Would need to be commercial premises, otherwise it’s a bucket and water.

  60. Hose pipe abuser // April 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm //

    You’re all losers.

  61. can I jet wash a court yard on commercial premises

  62. Can I fill an existing pond that has a mains inlet. The pond has just been repaired but because there was temperature issues with the paint curing, it only now ready to fill? Ive had to rescue numerous frogs during this process and about ten haven’t been so luckily. I’m worried as to how an unfilled 100 year old pond will effect the local ecology

  63. Also, can I pressure wash a clients hazardous and slippery wooden deck in their back garden?

  64. I am a koi carp keeper. I need to clean the pond filters weekly. This requires mains pressure from a hose. If I don’t clean the filters then several thousand pounds worth of koi will die before the summer is out. Can I use a hose for this?

    Alternatively, I have an old well in the garden, can I rig up a pump and connect a hose to this?

  65. I Live in GU area is the hosepipe ban in force for this area

    • We are unable to give advice on post codes that may be affected. Please contact your local water company.

  66. 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.