Hosepipe bans lifted but long term issues remain

13 June 2012

Weeks of heavy rain have prompted three water companies to lift restrictions, but issues of water security need to be addressed immediately

Anglian Water, Southern Water and Thames Water are removing their Temporary Use Bans (TUBs) from midnight on Wednesday. While gardeners may be relieved at this news, the recent droughts that have pushed water usage and management into the spotlight are not a one-off problem, but a symptom of a longer term, and much deeper problem.

Last week the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) published its State of the Nation: Water report. In it the ICE made several recommendations – including the development of new water storage facilities across the country, collaborative investment in new infrastructure, and the phased introduction of universal metering. All of these steps, plus greater attention on ways to use less water in the home, could help. So we encourage people to treat the lifting of the hosepipe bans with restraint.

Managing Director of Waterwise, Jacob Tompkins says “Given the recent rain it’s understandable why the restrictions were lifted in those areas. However, given that groundwater hasn’t recovered, and we’re facing another dry winter, the threat of other drought conditions still looms.”

One problem highlighted in the ICE report is the low value we place on water. Unmetered households pay roughly £1 per day for unlimited water, which requires a costly treatment process to make it potable. However greater and better use of greywater, and rainwater could significantly cut domestic water demand.

South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast – all companies that rely heavily on groundwater to supply their customers – have confirmed their hosepipe bans remain in place.

On balance though the short-term heavy rainfall brings some relief, the fact remains that immediate action needs to be taken to ensure the long-term security of the UK’s water supply. And, even though the ban has been lifted in some cases, we encourage people to continue to use water wisely.

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