Hosepipe ban is beyond the pail, says HTA

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is calling on the Environment Agency to only allow United Utilities to impose a hosepipe ban after all other approaches to water conservation in Cumbria have been tried.

United Utilities is considering imposing a hosepipe ban to combat a dry spell in north-west England if there is insufficient rain over the next few weeks.

United Utilities representative John Sanders said: "It's been an unprecedented period of dry weather since December 2009, and we need to take action now so we can tap into available water resources if the dry weather continues."Now, more than ever we need people to use water wisely.

"We're monitoring the situation day by day, but if we don't have any significant rainfall by the end of this month we will need a hosepipe ban to help conserve essential supplies.

"Of course we need to balance the needs of our customers with the needs of the environment."

The HTA says a collaborative approach will always offset the need for restriction.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "The HTA is fully supportive of the need to save water during a drought.  We believe that the immediate imposition of a hosepipe ban is damaging.  Hosepipe bans deter people from planting and gardening, and have a savage effect on growers and retailers of plants, many of which are small businesses."

The recent Flood and Water Management Bill clarified that the Government was open to developing a process which is expected to lead to water companies encouraging drip irrigation, evening watering and watering on alternate days before implementing a hosepipe ban.  This is the sort of phased process that the HTA has been advocating for several years as it continues to call for a transparent Code of Practice on this issue.  HTA have proposed a code and calls upon United Utilities to follow it and take the lead.

"While we recognise that water companies have been doing a great deal to encourage water conservation we feel more could be done to prevent wastage - for example by controlling leakage," Briercliffe added.

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