With the UK basking in the longest heatwave since 1976, a lack of rainfall has left water supplies severely depleted.
This means that seven million people in the north west of England are facing a hosepipe ban from Sunday August 5, while in Northern Ireland, a ban was put in place at the end of June.
If your water is supplied by United Utilities and you’re in an affected area, you are not to use a hosepipe or sprinklers to water your garden, clean your car or fill paddling pools or ponds.
Regions in Cumbria and the north Eden valley are expected to be exempt if their water supply remains at reasonable levels.
During a hosepipe ban everybody is expected to do their bit, so it can feel extremely frustrating to see a neighbour flouting the ban while you’re enduring a quick five minute shower rather than a luxurious soak in a nice hot bath.
According to the Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010, using a hose to clean a private boat, to fill a domestic swimming or paddling pool or pond, or to clean walls, windows, paths or patios of a domestic property is also banned.
There are a number of things you can do if you see somebody breaching the hosepipe ban:
Try to explain why it’s so important
If you have a friendly relationship with the person, try to explain why it’s so vital to conserve water.
They might not have seen the news, might think a quick wash of their car or windows won’t really make a difference – so take a couple of minutes to suggest water saving measures such as turning the tap off while brushing their teeth, using a bucket and sponge to clear a car or a watering can to water their plants.
Report them to the local authority
If you fear approaching them about flouting the ban could escalate into a confrontation, you can report their breach to the local authority.
What are hosepipe ban penalties?
During temporary hosepipe bans, utility companies have the power to press charges in a criminal court.
During hosepipe ban, utility firms encourage people report anyone they think has been breaking a hosepipe ban.
Anyone convicted of the offence can be prosecuted.
Being found guilty of breaking a hosepipe ban can result in a penalty fine of up to £1,000.
Each local water company can decide whether certain activities are exempt and they can introduce a hosepipe ban for as long as they deem necessary.
In Northern Ireland, more than 140 people have already been reported for breaching the ban.
NI Water CEO Sara Venning said: “If someone does feel the need to break the ban, it is about talking to people, approaching them and explaining to people about why it is important
“We have approached people, we have had some reports of the ban being broken and what we have done is we speak to the people, we explain what we are doing and the response on the whole has been very positive.
“They have said thanks for letting me know and they have stopped,” she told Radio Ulster.
Exemptions to the ban can include using a hose for “health and safety reasons”, such as removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety, or preventing or controlling the spread of disease.
People can also still fill a home birthing pool, clean graffiti off public buildings or fill water troughs for animals.