Britain’s gardens are running short of water following the recent dry weather, and as gardeners turn on the hose water boards are warning that reserves are getting dangerously low.
This year has seen the longest heatwave in more than 40 years, with weather watchers recording the fourth hottest and driest June since 1910. Most of the country now experiencing soil moisture levels much lower than normal for this time of year.
Even though many enjoyed the relief of spells of rain in July, many of the heavier downpours simply ran straight off the parched earth, and forecasters are now predicting a return to dry weather through August and September.
North-west England has become the latest area to face a hosepipe ban, the region’s first since 2012. Seven million water users are affected by the ban, which affects Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and much of Cumbria, and comes into force on 5th August. The region’s water company, United Utilities, is reporting reservoir levels at 17% lower than this time last year.
In Northern Ireland, a hosepipe ban has been in force since June, with an extra 175m litres of water pumped into the system to help keep up with demand. In the Isles of Scilly, people have been asked to stop using hosepipes and sprinklers and keep water usage to an absolute minimum as groundwater supplies are ‘critically low’.
Hosepipes use about 540 litres of water an hour – as much as a family of four would use in a day – and a ban can reduce water usage by up to 10%. Under the restrictions, gardeners cannot use hoses and sprinklers for watering private gardens and washing cars, although you can still use watering cans and wash cars with a bucket and sponge. You can, however, use a hose to fill or maintain a domestic fish-pond.