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Hosepipe bans – are you sceptical or will you do your bit?

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?

Comments
Guest
mark burbidge says:
2 April 2012

why can’t we get water from the sea look at countries that get little rain every year spain the med

Guest

Unfortunately it is still massively expensive. Even high-tech, wealthy (and soggy) Singapore is still only experimenting with desalination http://www.economist.com/node/21524186

Guest

“Unfortunately it is still massively expensive”. The South Coast, where most water is drawn from natural aquifers which feed the increasingly dry chalk rivers, is also one of our sunniest regions. I wonder about the feasibility of using solar power to provide the energy for desalination plants to supplement the supply in this area?

Guest

It’s a good excuse not to wash the car, other than keeping the lights and number plates clean.

Guest
Sophie Gilbert says:
2 April 2012

I was brought up in the south east of France (Provence/Med) and the lesson to learn from there is that water is precious and not to waste it: have a shower rather than a bath, turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth, do the washing up in a sink full of hot water and not under the running hot tap, wash the car using a bucket (sorry, Wavechange, you can’t escape this one ;0) ), and so on and so forth, we all know the drill. And this is throughout the year, never mind when there’s a ban. Water companies are wasteful enough themselves without our adding to the problem.

Guest

You are a hard taskmaster Sophie. I’ll think about washing the car with a bucket of water.

One thing I often do is to wipe rain o. the morning dew off the windowsills and the top of the car, which uses no water (other than to wash the cloth or sponge) and is fairly effective at removing muck if done frequently.

Guest
Sophie Gilbert says:
2 April 2012

I forgot to say that I stay in Edinburgh, where there is no ban. We may never run out of water in Scotland, but 1, we’ve had too little rain for quite a while now; 2, lessons learned in childhood are seldom forgotten; and 3, I care about the environment.

Guest

It’d have to be pretty dry for a long time to make Scotland have a ban as the population density is much lower than SE England. Compared with the rest of the country there’s a lot of man-made water storage in Scotland as well thanks to the hydro power plants in the Highlands.

Guest