Water Supply

March 2007

All water supply authorities in the London area have now ended their hosepipe bans

The information on this page dating from the period April to June 2006 will remain on the web site as it provides a guideline and precedents for the handling of any future hose pipe ban.

Water supply - Hose pipe ban.

Although the majority of allotment sites do not allow the use of hose pipes at all there are a significant minority where they are used for filling butts to reduce the distance that water is carried particularly by the elderly. Enquiries from a score of sites and Societies indicate that there is some confusion over the application and extent of the ban. This has not been helped by misleading statements in the national press and apparently inconsistant replies to telephone enquiries to Thames Water.

To clarify the situation we sent an e-mail to Thames Water, the full text of which and of their reply is set out below.

Drought regulations and allotments

Date: Thu Apr 27 00:01:03 2006

>From: Jack Dudley Swale <webmaster@londonallotments.net>  (London Allotments Network)

To: customer.feedback@thameswater.co.uk

Reply to: webmaster@londonallotments.net

Dear Sirs

I am being asked by many allotment societies to obtain clarification of certain points relating to the current hosepipe restrictions. Both individual plotholders and societies find the details of the ban confusing and your clarification would be much appreciated. Our enquiries have been hindered by the fact that the graphic showing what is and what is not allowed under the ban fails to appear on the frequently asked questions page of your web site.

Specifically I have been asked to obtain clarification of the following points:-

Why has Thames Water decided to extend the hose pipe ban to allotments when other water authorities have decided not to? There are several London Boroughs with some allotment sites supplied by yourselves and some by other authorities and the variation in policy is seen as unfair. One of the largest allotment societies believes that there is no legal basis for this ruling because although allotments are not truly public they are not 'domestic'. In most cases the supplies to allotment sites are supplies to local authority parks or leisure services departments; in a significant minority they are supplies to individual societies which are billed by you as commercial.

Precisely what is meant by filling containers with a short length of hose? It has been reported to me that phone calls to your drought line by plotholders have elicited answers varying from 'that means a metre of hose at most ' to one gentleman who was told that it was permissable for him to use a fifty foot hose to fill his water butt. Relatively few allotment sites permit watering directly with a hose but a great many permit the use of hoses to fill water butts on individual plots specifically because less water will be wasted if it is carried the last few hundred feet from a supply point in a hose than if it is carried in cans or buckets. This policy also greatly assists elderly and infirm plotholders by reducing the distance that they need to carry cans.

I will attempt to provide across London clarification by publishing your reply on the londonallotments.net web site. I would also like your permission to place a link to the 'drought' page of your website on our website.

Jack Dudley Swale

Webmaster - London Allotments Network

From: customer.feedback@thameswater.co.uk

To: "webmaster@londonallotments.net" <webmaster@londonallotments.net>

Thames Water
Customer Relations
Customer Services
P.O. Box 436
SN38 1TU

Telephone: 08457 200897
Fax: 01793 424291
E-mail: Customer.Feedback@thameswater.co.uk

10 May 2006

Our Ref: 320428

Hosepipe Ban and Allotments

Dear Mr Dudley Swale

Thank you for your e-mail of 27 April 2006.

I am sorry to hear that there are those who find the conditions of the ban confusing, I hope to help clarify your concerns in my reply. ;Your comments regarding our website will forwarded to our Communications Team for their consideration.

The hosepipe ban does not refer to 'Domestic Properties' it refers to private gardens and private vehicles, we take the term private to mean, a property to which the public do not have access to.

We accept that allotments are not directly referred to in the ban. However, allotments are, in our view, private and hence are included in the hosepipe ban therefore, allotment holders are subject to the same watering restrictions as apply to private gardens, and hosepipes and sprinklers may not be used for watering as access to the general public is not permitted.

We do recognise that there is a range of interpretations across both other water companies and other stakeholders. We also recognise that the law is not specific, but we are of the view that saving water is the primary goal and allotment holders will be generally understanding of this.

Further to your question regarding the filling of containers with a short length of hose, there is no legal definition of a short length of hose. I accept that using a length of hose to fill a water butt by an allotment, will result in less water being used than filling several buckets due to spillages as the water is carried to and from the allotment.

Therefore, I can confirm that it is permissible to use a length of hose to fill a water butt / container by an allotment. However, it is not permitted to use this hose to water the allotment. We would also encourage the fitting of trigger devices to hosepipes that would stop the flow water when the hose is released, so that water is not wasted when the allotment holder walks back to the tap.

The hosepipe ban was introduced using powers found in Section 76 of The Water Industry Act 1991.

The following is a link that will take you to the relevant Government website.

Water Industry Act 1991

We have no objection you including a link on your website to our 'Drought Page' on our website.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us.

Yours sincerely

Gareth Drinkwater

Customer Relations

Beat the Drought: Help save water by planting drought tolerant plants that thrive in dry conditions. Visit www.thameswater.co.uk/waterwise for more water saving tips.

Four different companies provide water supplies to parts of Greater London.

Essex and Suffolk Water supplies part of the London Borough Of Havering. They did not impose a ban on hose pipes or apply for a drought order in 2006.

Sutton and East Surrey water supplies the London Borough of Sutton, most of Croydon and a part of the Borough of Merton. They had a drought order in 2006 and imposed a hose pipe ban.

Three Valleys Water supplies the whole of Hillingdon Borough and Parts of the Boroughs of Barnet, Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Ealing, Havering and Redbridge. They had a hose pipe ban in 2006 but did not apply it to allotments according to the FAQ on their website. Their published policy (at 14 June 2006) was that "...the ban applies to the watering of a private garden and allotments do not fall within this category. However, we would encourage allotment holders to act now to install water butts for collection of water and think about other ways that they can mulch and use biodegradable gel to retain the moisture within the soil. Most allotments are rented, if the organisation renting the allotment decides to restrict water use then that is a private a matter between the allotment holder and the person leasing the allotment as it falls under the terms and conditions of their agreement."

The remainder of Greater London is supplied by Thames Water who banned hose pipes in 2006 and applied for a drought order.

There are two maps on the Thames Water website which should tell you which water company supplies your allotment site.

links to the websites of all four companies appear on the right hand side of this page.

Information or stories about the drought are very welcome as are tips, and water conservation ideas. Drought is not something which will go away. The present trends of climate change suggest that summer rainfall will decrease progressively for at least the next few years. For those who want to save rainwater it looks as though the winter months are actually getting wetter.