Thames Water hosepipe ban threatens jobs

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Thames Water hosepipe ban threatens jobs

Wednesday April 4, 2012


L-R: Hew Stevenson of Shoots & Leaves on Trusssley Road and Cllr Nick Botterill

Thames Water’s hosepipe ban is confusing, unnecessary and threatens local jobs.

This is the stark warning from Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Nick Botterill, who says the ban would not be needed if Thames Water managed the capital’s water supply more effectively.

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 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.

Cllr Botterill says: “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 successful H&F landscaping business says the ban is already causing confusion and he has been forced to delay or even 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 on Trusssley Road, says: “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.

Cllr Botterill continues: “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 coughing up an extra £80 per year for life to pay for the controversial super sewer.

Richard Ashley, who is the respected 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 says: “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 Thames Water's website (opens new window).

» Send us your comments now

A few months ago a water pipe burst under the pavement, outside my next door neighbour's house. She phoned Thames Water on the first day water began to seek up through the pavement to report it. The following day the seep had become a gush. In total, it gushed for eight days, flooding the pavement and road, creating a hazard for pedestrians, endangering the roots of a nearby tree and causing my neighbour great concern that it would flood her basement.

Somebody from Thames Water turned up on the third or fourth day and noted that my neighbour's original call was genuine. Somebody else turned up two or three days later and painted an arrow on the pavement in the direction of the source of water (as if it wasn''t obvious!). It was two days later that a team actually turned up and resolved the problem.

If our experience is typical, I cannot help thinking that the water shortage is, in part, due to Thames Water''s staff shortages . . . or is it inefficiency?

From Jane on 10/04/2012 at 13:20
It just seems ridiculus that we have a hose pipe ban. when you travel to europe they don''t have this problem and considering we are supposed to be so advanced in technology, this seems ridiculus
From madtaz60 on 10/04/2012 at 11:00
Dear Mr Botterill and Cabinet colleagues,

First of all, please be accurate: using a bucket to clean domestic windows is NOT a prohibited activity (only using a hosepipe is forbidden).

Next: neither you nor Thames Water can make it rain!

Basically there are too many people in the Thames Valley and not enough water. We have had two winters of exceptionally low rainfall. And the construction of more dwellings and offices in the Thames Valley is likely to make the shortfall worse, the new buildings create a warmer "microclimate" and prevent rain condensing and falling.

Perhaps Thames Valley gardeners will finally accept that they cannot water as they would like, and that they should plant drought-tolerant species.
And garden centers should stock and sell such species?

Yes, SUDS is required for NEW large buildings, but it is impossible to require householders to rebuild their drainage systems for existing housing.

You and I will just have to grin and bear it. And STOP beating Thames Water over the head when they ARE trying to supply water for hygiene and public health as the first priority.
From Una Hodgkins on 05/04/2012 at 10:11

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