Does Southern Water’s hosepipe ban apply to you?

On Friday 29 July, Southern Water announced a Temporary Use Ban (TUB) in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, under which people can’t use hosepipes or wash their cars. So does this apply to you?

Reading the small print, it actually states that anyone in the region “whose water supply comes from Southern Water will be prohibited from carrying out various activities using a hosepipe, including watering a garden, filling a fountain and cleaning a vehicle”.

If you live in the green area of the following map, then your water supply comes from Portsmouth Water and until Portsmouth Water issue a hosepipe ban, the Southern Water ban doesn’t apply to you. Portsmouth Water’s CEO, Bob Taylor, confirmed this in a statement on 4th August urging a sensible level of caution: “This is where our customers can play a crucial part in ensuring there is water available for everyone by using water wisely.”

We don’t completely buy the published reason for Southern Water’s hosepipe ban.

Certainly the weather has been extremely dry throughout July, but then is that so abnormal? It’s highly convenient for Southern Water to declare a hosepipe at the same time as they’re looking to you to respond to their current HWTWRP consultation. You may well be led to believe that we’re already running out of water! But what do the current river levels actually tell us?

The UK Government host an interactive website which enables you to see the current levels of the rivers around the UK. Take this example, in which we’ve deliberately chosen to look at the various reporting points on the River Itchen.

Click on the map to view the status of the River Itchen

Click on that image and map showing live data will open in a new browser window. Zoom into that map and check the river level at any of the points marked with a little ‘Water level’ mark – for example, number ‘2’ at Brambridge, shown below. At the time of writing this post on 1st August, almost all of the river level reporting stations are showing ‘Normal’ level of water.

It’s just possible that Southern Water are exploiting this current dry spell to help justify the HWTWRP proposal.

While Portsmouth Water has come out and asked us all to be sensible in our use of water, Southern Water is exploiting a rather gullible media to try and get the public onside with its proposal to recycle water from Budds Farm sewage works and pump it into the new Havant Thicket Reservoir. As this page demonstrates, there are several more environmentally sound solutions to the problem of future water shortages, but unlike this Water Recycling proposal, they don’t all put Southern Water shareholders front and centre.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media and the local press are currently favouring the ‘dramatic’, and failing to look at the facts. To make matters worse, the press are also failing to point out that a significant number of households in Hampshire, certainly in the wider Portsmouth area and Havant Borough, get their water supply from Portsmouth Water and not Southern Water.

So until Portsmouth Water come out with a hosepipe ban, please just forget the lawn and the car, but you can still water those essential vegetables!