Hosepipe bans are on the way for much of the country this week, but will this really affect your day to day water usage? And what does it mean for the UK in the long term?
Roughly a quarter of the parched isle of Great Britain is officially in drought (and much of the rest is facing snow, that’s British weather for you) so several water companies have issued hosepipe bans.
Big publicity stuff, with a furore over the weekend with the Sun claiming water companies are wasting more water through leaks than they would save through hosepipe bans. This is something commenter Lessismore has criticised before:
‘We might take the idea of a drought more seriously and restrict our use of water in the shower if we didn’t see water from broken water pipes rushing down the street for days on end.’
But putting that to one side, is the hosepipe ban going to shape your spring and summer?
Water shortages and hosepipe bans
At the moment, south east England, East Anglia and parts of Yorkshire are in drought, other areas are at high risk and restrictions are on their way. Living in London, this feels like a ‘phoney war’ on a water shortage that I’m not really feeling the effects of.
So, with hosepipe bans implemented around the country, what will we have to do without? No more washing your car with a hosepipe; no filling up your swimming or paddling pools; no topping up ornamental (i.e. fish-free) ponds; no watering plants with a hose; and no recreational use of water – so no slip ‘n’ slide.
At the moment this probably won’t affect too many of us. It’s a bit too cold to take a dip if you’re lucky enough to have a pool. And the south east, being one of Europe’s most densely populated regions, has enough people crammed into flats and glorified broom cupboards that many don’t have a garden, let alone a hosepipe to water it with.
Generally it’s cleaning your car that will be hit hardest, though there’s been no word on whether your local car wash will be affected.
Future water use
We may moan about these water saving measures, but will they actually change our behaviour? Our previous Conversation on the drought came up with a few suggestions on how to cutback on water, from killing the tap when brushing your teeth to installing water-saving gadgets in your loo. But should we be looking at the bigger picture?
I was in Australia earlier this year and it’s now in a rainy season after its longest-ever drought. Down under the recent extreme summers have prompted head scratching, including whether the way people farm is to blame and whether people need to change the way they use water in the longer term.
If our ‘freakish’ dry spell becomes the norm, we may need to ask similarly difficult questions in the UK, and get a little more creative than just dry runs on a slip ‘n’ slide.
Do you think we’re too complacent about our water usage? Has a hosepipe ban been implemented in your area and will it make a difference to how you use water on a daily basis?