Drought restrictions UK: what are new guidelines for water usage, including hosepipe bans - and areas affected

A drought has now been declared in several areas across the country

Water companies have a duty to provide their customers with a constant supply of water, but they can also restrict supply if there is a water shortage.

Given that a drought has been declared in eight areas across the UK due to the extreme hot and dry weather conditions which have been experienced during the last few weeks, it is expected that some rules around water usage could be imposed.

Hosepipe bans have already been declared by several water companies, which impact different areas across the country.

So, just what water restrictions could be introduced?

Here’s what you need to know.

Will there definitely be water restrictions?

Drought status will not necessarily trigger new water rules.

Water companies do have pre-agreed drought plans, which follow local factors including reservoir levels, demand and forecasts.

This can lead to certain actions, such as hosepipe bans.

Water companies across the country are doing all they can to minimise the need for restrictions,

They are changing their sources of water, for example, to reduce pressure on hot-spots and by moving water around their regions to reinforce areas under pressure.

People are, however, being to carefully consider the amount of water they are using given the unprecedented conditions the UK is currently experiencing.

What water restrictions could be imposed?

All water companies can impose a ban or restriction on the use of hosepipes and sprinklers in their area if there is a serious shortage of water. These bans or restrictions must be approved by the government.

In simple terms, these TUBs (Temporary Use Bans) mean that residents may not use a hosepipe or equivalent device for domestic purposes, for example, filling paddling pools, watering gardens, or cleaning buildings, cars or decking.

If water levels in reservoirs, streams, and rivers continue to be a cause for concern then there is a possibility that some areas of the UK may see drought order restrictions imposed.

This is a level higher than a TUB in terms of severity and, as moving in to severe drought status would mean that our water resources are under significant stress, even greater action would be needed to manage people’s demand for water and the supply available.

Just what these drought order restrictions may be would be decided by each individual water company, and would vary across the country.

It is possible, however, that people may be asked to access water from standpipes or mobile water tanks.

A standpipe is a free standing pipe which is fitted with a tap which can easily be attached to a hydrant to get a water supply where there is no running water supply.

Farmers could also face restrictions on usage for irrigation.

How long will restrictions be in place for, if they are introduced?

If rules are imposed, it is not known how long they will be in place for.

They will be in place for as long as they are needed in a specific region, which will vary depending on local conditions.

In deciding to bring restrictions to an end, water companies must take multiple factors in to consideration.

They constantly monitor their storage and demand levels, and how the environment is faring, when deciding when to bring restrictions to an end.

They also take into account the latest weather forecasts to get an idea of what the situation is likely to be in the near future.

Each company will keep customers informed of any changes.

What areas are impacted by drought and hosepipe bans?

Parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England are to be moved into drought status, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said on Friday.

It has forced several water companies, including Yorkshire Water, Thames Water, Southern Water, South East Water and Welsh Water, to announce hosepipe bans that are going to affect millions of people.

The areas affected by the drought are: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Herts and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire and East Midlands.