Given the recent onslaught of searingly warm weather, it's no surprise that companies are becoming concerned about the current supplies of water.
With the heatwave set to continue for at least another two weeks, some water companies have already put the first stage of their drought action plan into place.
And certain areas around the UK have already been hit with a hosepipe ban, in order to conserve supplies during the hot weather.
What is the hosepipe ban?
Hosepipe bans are put into place very rarely, but water companies have the power to impose them if there are serious shortages of water.
These bans actually make it illegal for householders to use their hosepipes to wash the car or water the garden, and regularly appear during periods of unusually hot weather.
They can be put into place for as long as is necessary – and may apply at all times, or only set times of the day.
Where is the latest hosepipe ban?
The latest area to be hit by the ban is north-west england, after United Utilities (UU) confirmed that a temporary ban would be put in place, affecting seven million customers.
It will come into place on 5th August, and will help to “safeguard essential supplies”.
More specifically, United Utilities provide water to eastern parts of Cheshire. They also serve Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Cumbria.
Martin Padley, from UU, explained, “Despite some recent rainfall, reservoir levels are still lower than we would expect at this time of year and, with forecasters predicting a return to hot dry weather for the rest of July, we will need to impose some temporary restrictions on customers.”
Which other areas are affected by the hosepipe ban?
The only other place with an official hosepipe ban currently is Northern Ireland, which came into effect on 29th June.
NI Water chief executive Sara Venning explained, “We have maximised our water production and need customers’ help to reduce demand.”
However, other areas across the country are also being asked to cut back on their water usage, to help cope with demand.
Southern Water, which serves Kent, Hampshire and Sussex, have also asked customers to use less water – although they haven’t yet put an official ban on hosepipe use, yet.
Revealing that they are currently supplying 87 million litres more water a day today compared to a week ago, they asked that customers stop taking baths, take only four-minute showers, and stop washing cars and windows for the foreseeable.
Severn Trent Water, who serve customers in the West Midlands, have also urged people to cut back their usage – asking them not to use hosepipes. However, the company have not yet put a ban into force.
They said, “We’re set for another hot weekend, and, with demand for water really high, we’re producing millions of extra litres.
“We’re asking customers to be careful with their water and for now avoid using the garden sprinkler or hosepipe.”
What happens if you break the hosepipe ban?
If you are spotted using your hosepipe for any reason during an official ban from your water supplier, there could actually be some serious consequences.
Anyone who breaks the ban could be fined up to £1,000 in a criminal court – so it’s certainly a serious issue.
How you can conserve water during the heatwave?
While a hosepipe ban is likely bad news for gardeners and people who like to keep their outdoor space in tip-top shape, there are ways around it.
Conserve water and keep your plants hydrated by using a watering can during a hosepipe ban. This is completely allowed, and could help your garden to survive in the heat.
You can also be responsible with your water usage by helping to conserve it in a few ways. Southern Water have suggested turning the tap off whilst you brush your teeth, take only showers and, have asked customers not to take baths for the foreseeable.
Using only the amount of water you really need to cook food is also a sensible idea – as is using a washing up bowl to wash up dishes.
Saving up your dirty laundry, and putting in big loads less regularly could also help, as it means you’ll be using less water than normal.