Hosepipe ban update – all Devon and Cornwall restrictions lifted as key reservoirs fill

Find out if you need to shut off the sprinklers this summer.

What is it with the weather? One minute we’re basking in the sunshine, the next we’re sheltering under brollies. But the rain does have its upsides – our gardens are greener, our plants happier, and reservoirs are filling up again. This means that there no hosepipe bans currently in place in the UK.

South West Water is the last water company to lift the hosepipe bans that have been in effect in parts of Devon and Cornwall. As of 25th September, there is no Temporary Use Ban on water in any region of the UK.

Hand holding a watering hose spray gunCredit: Shutterstock/David Calvert

Usually, a hosepipe ban means you will not be allowed to use a hosepipe or sprinkler system for jobs like watering the garden, washing your car, pressure washing your patio or filling ponds, paddling pools and hot tubs. That’s because, according to Thames Water, “Running a hose, whether into the garden or paddling pool, uses up to 500 litres per 30 minutes of use.”

We’ll explain exactly who is affected, and the rules you’ll need to follow until any ban is lifted.

You will face a hefty fine for breaking the rules

Anyone found using hosepipe during a Temporary Use Ban without permission from their local water company could be fined by up to £1,000.

Is there a hosepipe ban in my area?

Check if your water company has introduced restrictions

We reached out to all the main water suppliers to see whether a ban is already in place or will officially come into force. Use this table to see if your region is affected.

WATER COMPANY NAME IS THERE A HOSEPIPE BAN IN PLACE?* THE SUPPLY AREAS AFFECTED
Affinity Water No n/a
Anglian Water No n/a
Bristol Water No n/a
Dwr Cymru Welsh Water No (Pembrokeshire ban lifted in October 2022) n/a
Hafren Dyfrdwy No n/a
Northumbrian Water No n/a
Scottish Water No n/a
Severn Trent No n/a
South East Water No, Kent and Sussex ban lifted 4th August 2023 n/a
South West Water No, Devon and Cornwall ban lifted 25th September 2023 Cornwall and parts of Devon
Southern Water No (Hampshire and Isle of Wight ban lifted in November 2022) n/a
South Staffs (& Cambridge) Water No n/a
Thames Water No (London and Thames Valley ban lifted in November 2022) n/a
United Utilities No n/a
Wessex Water No n/a
Yorkshire Water No (ban lifted in December 2022) n/a

 

*Information correct as of Monday September 25th, 2023.

Thankfully, most water companies don’t have bans in place. For example, Northumbrian Water says: “We have no plans in place to implement any drought measures such as hosepipe bans, but it is good practice for everyone to use water wisely.”

Similarly, Anglian water states: “There is currently no hosepipe ban in the Anglian Water region. Any notification of a hosepipe ban in our region would be shown on our In Your Area page.”

Paul Saynor, head of water resources and supply strategy at Wessex Water, says: “Groundwater and reservoir levels are lower than average at the moment, but we are not near the record low levels of 1976, which was the last time Wessex Water had a hosepipe ban.”

Could there be a Temporary Use Ban in the future?

A good indication of whether a ban may come into place in your area is to look at where restrictions have been needed in the recent past.

In 2022, hosepipe bans were put into place in parts of Pembrokeshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, London, Thames Valley and Yorkshire, so it’s worth keeping a close eye on your water company’s website and social feeds if you live in any of these regions.

We’ll be updating this article regularly to reflect any incoming bans and when restrictions are lifted.

What are the rules when there’s a hosepipe ban?

Breaking them could risk a large fine

The rules may vary slightly from authority to authority, but most water companies have similar restrictions.

Under the South West Water ban, you can’t use a hosepipe (including sprinklers, dipper hoses, automatic irrigation systems and other similar devices) for the following activities.

It is important to note, however, that you can continue to use a watering can (or bucket and sponge) to carry out any and all of the below, and that there are exceptions.

  1. Watering a garden or allotment – however, there are exceptions, see below.
  2. Cleaning a private motor-vehicle or taxi
  3. Watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises
  4. Cleaning a private leisure boat (unless for health and safety reasons, see below)
  5. Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
  6. Drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use – for example, filling a hot tub
  7. Filling or maintaining a domestic pond, unless it has fish in it
  8. Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain, unless its purpose is to keep fish healthy or for religious purposes (see below)
  9. Cleaning walls, or windows, of domestic premises
  10. Cleaning paths or patios
  11. Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces
Credit: Shutterstock/Goodluz

Are there any exceptions to the hosepipe ban rules?

Yes, most water companies will have exemptions

The rules above will vary by water company, but South West Water currently lists exceptions where a hosepipe can be used:

South West Water exceptions

  1. Watering food crops at domestic premises or private allotments using a hosepipe. This exception is purely for plants grown for food, and does not include other plants and flowers
  2. Watering newly laid turf using a hosepipe for the first 28 days
  3. Watering newly bought plants for the first 14 days
  4. Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain/pool to operate for religious purposes
  5. Watering plants that are (1) grown or kept for sale or commercial use, or (2) that are part of a National Plant Collection or temporary garden or flower display
  6. Using a hosepipe to water a garden or enclosed private leisure boat for health or safety reasons, and where this includes (a) removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety; and (b) preventing or controlling the spread of causative agents of disease
  7. Filling or maintaining a pool under certain circumstances. For a full list, visit South West Water’s website

There’s a hosepipe ban in my area. How do I keep my garden green?

Don’t worry, you have plenty of options

To combat the ban, try some of these ways to save water in the garden so that you can protect your plants and keep things green and gorgeous.

Our top tips for watering plants during a hosepipe ban

It’s absolutely fine to use a watering can during a hosepipe ban. Alan Titchmarch recommends taking the rose (sprinkler head) off the can, creating a ‘dish’ around the bottom of the plant where the water can pool, from where it sinks directly towards the roots.

“Don’t spray the surface of the leaves,” Titchmarsh warns. “With some flowers it can cause them to rot.”

Using ‘grey’ water – in other words, water that’s leftover from another task – can be a great way to top up your beds. This could be used bath water or washing-up water, the leftovers from your pets’ water bowls, or even used paddling-pool water.

These clever granules can be added to the soil, where they’ll store water and then slowly release it as your soil dries out, so your plants stay moist for longer. You can use SwellGel in containers or hanging baskets.

Removing weeds and applying mulch to your garden beds, hanging baskets and containers will help keep more moisture in the soil.

Once established, most lawns are incredibly resilient and will come back green when the rain finally returns.

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Amy Cutmore

Written by Amy Cutmore she/her

Updated:

Amy Cutmore has been writing about interiors for more than 20 years, harking back to the days when glossy red kitchens, toile de Jouy and rag rugs were all the rage, and everyone wanted a Changing Rooms makeover. You’ll have seen Amy’s work at Britain’s biggest homes titles, including Ideal Home, where she served as Consumer, Technology and Group Digital Editor. She has also edited or written for Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Inside Readers’ Homes, Inspirations for Your Home, Country House & Home, Top Ten Reviews, Trusted Reviews and Country Life.

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