Put the hose away or face a £1,000 fine

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ANGLIAN Water’s hosepipe ban began today.

You now risk a £1,000 fine if you use a hose except if it is for ‘non-domestic horticultural or agricultural activity’ or a use necessary to remove or minimise any risk to human or animal health and safety or to prevent or control the spread of ‘causative agents of disease’.

So watering the garden is out, until further notice, unless you are disabled (see left). Anglian Water’s definition of a ‘garden’ is also wide and includes parks, gardens open to the public, lawns, grass verges, areas of grass used for sport or recreation, non-commercial allotments and ‘any other grass space’.

Anglian Water says a hose typically uses 15 litres a minute so 10 minutes watering the garden uses about the same as the average person uses in a day.

East Anglia has been in drought since July and the Environment Agency now says the country from the Humber Estuary to the Isle of Wight is officially in the same boat.

The agency also says in its report on the drought that water levels are so low that even if we get above average rainfall from now on ‘there will still be significant drought impacts.’

Anglian Water says: “The East of England is the driest area of the UK with less average annual rainfall in some parts than Jerusalem. On top of that, last year was the driest the region has been for a century, leaving our rivers and groundwater levels exceptionally low.”

In the whole of 2011, East Anglia had only two thirds of its annual rainfall, and 2012 has done no better so far.

Bury St Edmunds weather recorder Alan Messem says only 105mm of rain has fallen in the first three months of the year, which is 30mm below average and the lowest since 2005.

He has recorded only 723mm in the past 18 months, which is 78 per cent of the East Anglian average.

Anglian Water has a good record on reducing water loss by fixing leaks. Its leakage rate is six cubic metres of water per kilometre of pipe compared to an industry average of just under 11 cubic metres. It has invested £14 million in preventing leakage this year and its 140 technicians have fixed 24,000 leaks in the past year.

The full conditions of the hosepipe ban plus tips on saving water and free water saving devices can be found at Anglian Water’s website

IN setting out the hose ban Anglian Water has recognised there must be exceptions.

If you are not sure whether the use you propose is legal, check the Anglian Water website at Anglian Water’s website or call its general query line on 08457 919155. Report leaks on 0800 771881.

The ban means you cannot use a hose to:

n Water a garden or other plants.

n Clean a private motor-vehicle or leisure boat.

n Fill or maintain a domestic swimming or paddling pool.

n Draw for domestic recreational use.

n Fill or maintain a domestic pond or ornamental fountain, except where fish or other aquatic animals are being reared or kept in captivity.

n Clean walls or windows of domestic premises.

n Clean paths, patios or other artificial outdoor surfaces.

You can still use a hose:

n Where use is necessary for human or animal health and safety reasons.

n In the course of a business to clean private motor vehicles, walls or windows of domestic premises, paths, patios or outdoor surfaces, where it is a service to customers

n To water a garden or plants on domestic premises if you have severe mobility problems or hold a current Blue Badge.

n To water grass or an artificial surface for sport or recreation in connection with a national or international sports event.

You can also use drip or trickle irrigation systems, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, which place water directly on or beneath the soil surface without surface run off or dispersion of water through the air.

Non-domestic horticultural or agricultural activity is exempt from the ban.