Is there a hosepipe ban in Kent and Sussex? South East Water restrictions explained, areas affected

A drought has been declared in parts of southern England

South East Water has introduced a hosepipe ban for its customers.

The restrictions are in place for Kent and Sussex.

Similar measures were introduced by Southern Water affecting Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from August 5.

Thames Water, which has 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, has previously said it expects to implement a ban in the coming weeks.

It comes as a drought was declared in parts of southern England.

What does a hosepipe ban actually mean?

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Under restrictions, customers are banned from using a hosepipe to water their gardens, clean their vehicles, fill their swimming pools or water fountains, clean patios or any artificial outdoor surfaces, clean a private leisure boat, or clean the windows and walls of their homes.

A “hosepipe” means anything designed, adapted or used to serve the same purpose as a hosepipe. This means garden sprinklers and most irrigation systems, connected to the mains water supply, are all considered to be hosepipes, together with anything attached to them like pressure washers.

People should not use a hosepipe that is connected to the mains water supply.

Businesses will only be allowed to use a hosepipe if it is directly related to a commercial purpose.

Where is the South East Water hosepipe ban in force?

The use of hosepipes and sprinklers is now restricted for customers in Kent and Sussex.

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The hosepipe ban affects everyone whose water is supplied by South East Water in Kent and Sussex, even if they pay their bill to another company.

If you live in these counties or are a South East Water customer, you can check if you are covered by the ban with a postcode checker on the company’s website.

Scorched, dry grass is pictured in the village of Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks in Kent, southeast of London on August 12, 2022. (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

When did it come into force?

The hosepipe ban come into power for Kent and Sussex at 12.01am on Friday (12 August).

What are the restrictions?

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Here is what you are cannot do during the hosepipe ban:

  • Water a garden using a hosepipe
  • Clean a private motor-vehicle (or a trailer for such a vehicle) using a hosepipe
  • Water plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe
  • Clean a private leisure boat using a hosepipe
  • Fill or maintain a domestic swimming or paddling pool
  • Draw water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use
  • Fill or maintain a domestic pond
  • Fill or maintain an ornamental fountain
  • Clean walls, or windows, of domestic premises using a hosepipe
  • Clean paths or patios using a hosepipe
  • Clean other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe

What happens if you break the hosepipe ban?

Rule-breakers face fines of up to £1,000 if taken to court, although water companies say they prefer “education over enforcement”.

People have been encouraged to report their neighbours if they spot them repeatedly breaching hosepipe bans.

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Are there any exemptions?

There are quite a few exemptions - these can be seen within each restriction catagory at South East Water’s website.

Why are hosepipe bans being declared?

On its website, South East Water says: “This has been a time of extreme weather conditions across the UK. Official figures show this is the driest July on record since 1935 and the period between November 2021 and July 2022 has been the driest eight-month stint since 1976.

“During July in the South East, we have only seen 8 percent of average rainfall for the month, and the long term forecast for August and September is for similar weather.

“The demand for water this summer has broken all previous records, including the Covid lockdown heatwave. We have been producing an additional 120 million litres of water a day to supply our customers, which is the equivalent of supplying a further four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne, daily.

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“We have been left with no choice but to restrict the use of hosepipes and sprinklers within our Kent and Sussex supply area until further notice.

“We are taking this step to ensure we have enough water for both essential use and to protect the environment. This will enable us to also reduce the amount of water we need to take from already stressed local water sources.”