RogerBW's Blog

Hosepipe bans: solving the wrong problem 19 August 2022

In the Thames Water area, we are to have a "hosepipe ban" from 24 August. This strikes me as the wrong way to reduce water consumption.

Mostly that's because it's shot full of exemptions. For example, the rules say that I'm not allowed to wash my own car; but if I pay someone to do it for me, using the exact same water, that's just fine.

"But what about Bob the Small Car Wash guy, whose business would be shut down by this?" Well, the water company could pay him from their record profits, since their dilatory approach to maintaining reservoirs and mending pipes is the primary cause of the problem, wasting several litres of water per person per day. (We've had plenty of major leaks onto the main roads round here, taking days or weeks to be fixed – and presumably more onto side roads that we haven't seen.) And many small businesses will soon be shutting down anyway as their power bills become ten times what they were last year. More sensible instead simply to put a ban on vehicle washing at all, as an unnecessary use of large amounts of water, whether I do it directly, employ someone to do it for me, or go to a car wash.

And in general, hoses are really not the offender: rather, it's spraying water into the air rather than putting it where it's needed. (There are more exemptions for drip-type watering systems.) So ban sprays, all sprays, commercial or not, filled from a hose or just from the tap.

And of course we have the blanket religious exemption ("Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain to operate water features with religious significance"). Your fountain that gives pleasure to hundreds of people can dry up, but someone else's private fountain of "religious significance" can waste as much water as it likes.

There's another trick: people with a blue badge for severe mobility problems are still allowed to use hoses for all the usual things, water a garden attached to a domestic dwelling, clean a private motor vehicle, and so on. It doesn't have to be their own.

The whole thing is a mess, in fact. Yes, there's been much less rainfall than usual. But while we scrimp and save and let our gardens die, and public parks turn brown, golf courses get a total exemption.

Tags: real life

  1. Posted by Chris at 09:56am on 19 August 2022

    I found that I was cheering in a quiet voice when I read somewhere that a group in Toulouse who objected to the waste of water on keeping the greens green had gone and filled the holes at their local golf-course with cement.

  2. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:12am on 20 August 2022

    I too was cheering at the golf course with cemented holes. Serves them right, most golf clubs are full of their own importance in my experience, my brother plays at municipal courses because all the golf clubs are full of bores who set stupid rules.

    Personally I have not been letting my garden die. Cambridge is not on a hosepipe ban, apparently the underground aquifers are higher than normal for the time of year. And anyway I've been using a watering can, it's much easier to keep track of whether you've watered everything and how much you gave them.

    In addition, the leak rate at Cambridge Water is 1%. No that's not a typo, it is one percent. OK they are a much smaller water company than most, but the staggeringly low leak rate compare to others suggests they're doing something better. They also have a leaks dashboard:

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