Britons with new lawns and hot tubs will be exempt from a hosepipe ban coming into force.
A number of water firms have announced restrictions to cope with prolonged dry weather in England and Wales, which has been hit with months of sparse rainfall and scorching temperatures.
Residents in certain areas are being banned from using hosepipes for a long list of activities, including watering gardens and washing cars.
But they will be allowed to water newly-planted lawns during this time - with some even allowed to fill hot tubs.
This will be the case for South East Water’s hosepipe ban, which will come into force for customers in Kent and Sussex from Friday.
“You may use a hosepipe to water newly laid turf in domestic gardens for 28 days after planting/laying in order to help them establish,” the water firms says in its FAQ section on the ban.
“In order to do so you must be able to provide evidence of that date on which the gardening work was completed.”
“However we would ask if possible to wait for cooler weather to lay new turf when we expect to see demand for water reduce.”
The company says customers will be banned from using hosepipes to fill up domestic swimming and paddling pools during the restrictions, whose end date has not yet been confirmed.
South East Water says hot tubs will not face any restrictions. But it adds: “Although exempt we would ask if you can wait until cooler weather and demand for water reduces for any water use that isn’t really necessary, that would really help.”
Christine Colvin from the Rivers Trust told The Daily Telegraph a hot tub was a “luxury use” of water.
“You can understand people wanting to nurture their gardens, growing food in their gardens, wanting to keep things alive. That doesn’t apply to a hot tub. That just seems crazy,” she is reported as saying.
Caroline Gould, South East Water’s Head of Legal, said: “The restrictions under the Water Industry Act 1991 apply to domestic swimming and paddling pools, not hot tubs.
“We believe that this is due to hot tubs at the time being viewed more as baths which are not a restricted activity.
“We are therefore asking our customers to consider their usage and to wait until cooler weather and demand for water reduces for any water use that is not essential or necessary.”
Other hosepipe bans are understood to prohibit residents from filling up hot tubs, including one already in place in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Southern Water – which has restricted use since Friday – is stopping customers from using hosepipes to water plants, clean patios, water plants or fill swimming and paddling pools.
Its website does not mention hot tubs, but the water firm told The Independent these would face the same restrictions as pools and ponds.
Watering gardens with hosepipes are also banned – but Southern Water says residents can apply for permission to use one to water turf in its first 28 days.
“However, we would hope that anyone who needs to do so would respect the spirit of the ban and consider how you can use water wisely whilst doing that,” it says.
Pembrokeshire in Wales is also facing a hosepipe ban from 19 August, with hot tubs expressedly included in restrictions.
However, as with other bans, newly laid turf is exempt from the rules.
Water companies have been turning to hosepipe bans to ensure essential water is available and the environment protected during the difficult conditions.