London councillor slams Thames Water for leaks which are losing landscapers work

Thames Water's hosepipe ban is confusing, unnecessary and threatens local jobs, Hammersmith & Fulham Council's deputy leader Cllr Nick Botterill has warned.

image: Thames Water
image: Thames Water

Botterill says the ban would not be needed if Thames Water managed the capital’s water supply more effectively.

He added that the south-east of England still gets a "significant amount of rain, when compared to parts of the world that are not facing a hosepipe ban", with more than 25 inches of rainfall recorded in 2011, according to the Met Office.

But, says Cotterill, despite this, from tomorrow (April 5) residents face £1,000 fines for cleaning the patio or washing a car with a hosepipe. Even cleaning windows is breaking the rules.

Thames Water also has one of the highest leakage rates from its water mains of all the privatised water companies in the UK and in a sinister move is encouraging neighbours to report violations - with fines likely to follow.

Botterill said: "Not only does Thames Water’s hosepipe ban make no sense but it is also putting local people’s jobs and businesses under threat.

"Of-course Thames Water cannot make it rain but they do have a duty to manage our water supplies in a responsible way. They are completely failing in this regard and have lost millions of gallons though leaks while proposing to waste billions of pounds on an unnecessary 19th century concrete tunnel which will do nothing to manage the water supply in a greener, more sustainable, 21st century way."

The news comes as the owner of a Hammersmith landscaping business says the ban is already causing confusion and he has been forced to delay or cancel improvement projects as clients fear they will not be able to maintain their gardens properly once the work is complete.

Hew Stevenson, of Shoots & Leaves, said: "We employ 14 people and this should be our busiest time of the year - the last time we had this many projects cancelled in one week was the credit crunch in 2008.

"Thames Water seems less understanding and sympathetic to small businesses in the horticulture industry and it is particularly galling when we can all see water bubbling out of the tarmac from their ageing pipes. The fear is that the uncertainty caused by Thames Water’s hosepipe ban could soon cost local jobs."

The council is backing local businesses and is calling on Thames Water to put in place greener, more environmentally friendly plans to manage the natural fluctuation in rainfall in a more sustainable way.

Water industry experts have warned that Thames Water is repeating the same mistakes of the past in favouring multi-billion pound concrete infrastructure projects, like the Thames Tunnel ‘super sewer’, rather than investing in greener sustainable urban drainage solutions (SUDS). These include solutions like water butts, using rainwater for toilet flushing, green roofs and permeable pavements that conserve and recycle rainwater.

Botterill added: "SUDS would ensure that we all have more water to use, whether it rains heavily or not, as far less water would be wasted. SUDS would also have the added benefit of acting as a sensible and greener alternative to their costly super sewer, which threatens to devastate riverside communities and drive many bills-payers into water poverty."

Fears are also emerging that the hosepipe ban could continue into next year. That would mean 14million Thames Water customers, from Essex to Swindon and all of London, facing a double-whammy of an extended ban in addition to paying an extra £80 per year for life to pay for the controversial super sewer.

Richard Ashley, who is professor of urban water at Sheffield University, says that decades of failed water management are responsible for the hosepipe ban and the super sewer and that a different approach is needed so that rainwater is treated as the valuable resource that it is.

Professor Ashley said: "The super sewer is a prime example of the failure of sustainable water management in the UK. Of course we all want a cleaner Thames but, instead of capturing the fresh rainwater and using it productively, we are allowing it to flow into the sewer network where it mixes with sewage. We are then proposing to spend billions of pounds to build a massive concrete pipe to pump the combined rainwater and sewage out to east London - only for it to be separated out again."

Thames Water is warning customers that water must not be used for the following purposes:

- watering a ‘garden’ using a hosepipe;

- cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe;

- watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe;

- cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe;

- filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool;

- drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use;

- filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe;

- filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain;

- 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.

Residents who ignore the ban face a maximum penalty of £1,000 for each offence. To read more visit: www.thameswater.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/corp/hs.xsl/15443.htm


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