Yorkshire Water has announced it will introduce a hosepipe ban, the first water company in the north of England to do so, as Britain suffers drought-like conditions.
The ban, covering all 5.4 million customers, will come into effect on August 26 and will prevent residents from watering plants, cleaning cars or filling swimming pools using a hosepipe.
Yorkshire Water is the fifth water provider in the UK to announce it will bring in restrictions as southern Britain experienced the driest January on record.
In a statement, Neil Dewis, Yorkshire Water’s director of water, said: "Parts of Yorkshire have seen the lowest rainfall since our records began more than 130 years ago. The hot, dry, weather means that Yorkshire’s rivers are running low and our reservoirs are around 20 per cent lower than we would expect for this time of year."
"We’ve been doing everything we can to avoid putting in restrictions but unfortunately, they’re now necessary as part of our drought planning."
"As we’ve now reached that trigger point, we need to make sure that we have enough supply for the essential needs of people across the region this year and next, as well as making sure we’re able to protect our local environment by limiting the amount of water we have to draw from the rivers."
"Our decision to introduce a hosepipe ban is based on the risk that water stocks continue to fall in the coming weeks and the need to be cautious about clean water supplies and long term river health."
Under the ban, residents will be banned from:
Watering a garden using a hosepipe
Cleaning vehicles or boats using a hosepipe
Watering plants with a hosepipe
Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
Drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use
Cleaning walls or windows of domestic premises using a hosepipe
Cleaning paths or patios using a hosepipe
Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe
However, they are still permitted to complete those activities with tap water from a bucket or watering can, or using water that is not sourced from taps.
Businesses will only be allowed to use a hosepipe if it is directly related to a commercial purpose.
Thames Water, Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru), Southern Water and South East Water all previously signalled hosepipe bans would be necessary while the Wildlife Trusts have called for an England-wide hosepipe ban to protect nature and rivers.
Drought conditions could last into next year, experts predicted as water levels in reservoirs across England and Wales dropped to record lows.
An official drought is expected to be declared across the worst-hit areas of southern England at a meeting between ministers and the water industry on Friday.
The Consumer Council for Water's (CCW) chief executive said water companies must "step up" in their efforts to address leakages which can "dampen people's enthusiasm" for trying to save the resource.
Emma Clancy said visible leaks can "really just turn people off" in terms of the steps they need to take to reduce their water use.
She told Sky News: "We know that when leakage is seen, particularly visible leaks where you see an incident in the street, it really does dampen people's enthusiasm to take the steps that we're describing.
"So it is very, very important that companies do step up, that they do tackle the visible leaks and also that they communicate with people much more clearly about the steps that they're taking and why they are taking it.
"CCW's research shows that around 50% of people are happy with the communications that they receive from water companies, so there is some way to go and we think that that can be strengthened. Leaks must be addressed as part of this solution."
She urged companies to see the target of reducing leakage by half by 2050 as "a basic standard" which they should try to exceed.
Water companies need to be 'held to account'
Liz Truss last night said water companies need to be “held to account” as she promised to launch a review of the way in which utilities regulators operate if she becomes prime minister.
She told a leadership hustings hosted by The Telegraph: “I think the problem with a lot of utility regulation is we were one of the first countries to privatise utilities and we created these regulators but over time they have become less effective at doing the job and in some cases they are actually not promoting enough growth and competition as well.
“So I would review the regulators and how they are operating to make sure they are much more effective."
Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary and a leading supporter of Ms Truss, said this morning that the Foreign Secretary would look to “streamline” regulators to improve their performance.
She told Sky News: “Well, we have multiple regulators for multiple utilities and I think Liz is interested in looking at some ways of potentially streamlining that but overall I am conscious that ever since privatisation there has been tens of billions of pounds invested in the water company.”