A hosepipe ban has been imposed on millions of British households after two of the driest winters on record.
Thames Water, Southern Water, South East Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are bringing in the restrictions that affect about 20 million people.
Most of the suppliers expect the ban to last all summer.
Householders ignoring the ban face a £1,000 fine, so it's vital to know exactly what you can and can't do.
According to Section 76 Water Industry Act 1991, under which a Temporary Use Ban Notice (a hosepipe ban) is encated, you can't:
1) water a ‘garden’ using a hosepipe;
2) clean a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe;
3) water plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe;
4) clean a private leisure boat using a hosepipe;
5) fill or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool;
6) draw water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use;
7) fill or maintain a domestic pond using a hosepipe;
8) fill or maintaining an ornamental fountain;
9) clean walls, or windows, of domestic premises using a hosepipe;
10) clean paths or patios using a hosepipe;
11) clean other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe.
Now, just in case you were wondering, a "garden" includes all of the following: a park, gardens open to the public, a lawn, a grass verge, an area of grass used for sport or recreation, an allotment garden, any area of an allotment used for non-commercial purposes and any other green space.
There are exceptions to the rule. You're immune to the restrictions if you are:
- using a hosepipe in a garden or for cleaning walls or windows of domestic premises, paths or patios, a private leisure boat or an artificial outdoor surface, where such use is necessary for health and safety reasons.
- a person with severe mobility problems who hold a current Blue Badge as issued by your local authority. You won't be prohibited from using a hosepipe to water a garden attached to a domestic dwelling, plants on domestic premises, or allotments where you are the tenant.
- using a hosepipe to clean a private motor vehicle, walls and windows of domestic premises, or paths, patios and other outdoor surfaces where this is done as a service to customers in the course of a business.
- using a hosepipe to water an area of grass or artificial outdoor surfaces used for sport or recreation, where this is required in connection with a national or international sports event.
- you are using a drip or trickle irrigation watering system, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, that place water drip by drip directly onto the soil surface or beneath the soil surface,without any surface run off or dispersion of water through the air using a jet or mist.