Thursday, April 05, 2012

Hosepipe ban

A hosepipe ban is in place across several authorities, but why? If you answered 'Because the water levels are low' fine except why a hosepipe ban? In theory if water stocks are low than a blanket restriction on water should be in force, but it's not it's just hosepipes. If you answered 'Because hosepipes are wasteful of water' are they? Who told you that? That would be the water companies. Let's take a closer look.

I'll start with the basics. You attach a hosepipe to a tap turn it on and water comes out the other end; however you're having to use an amount of water to fill the pipe before it becomes useful. Is this a waste compared to filling a watering can? No because the water doesn't go anywhere afterwards. Use the hose again and it will force the water still in the pipe out.

They'll be some dripping and evaporation; but if you fill a can up and only use half of it the same can be said there. In fact if you fill a can up use only half of it and then tip the rest down the drain the watering can can be said to be more wasteful.

Can it be said that hosepipes use more water than a can? A watering can forces water out of the spout under gravity a hose from the mains water pressure which is greater. Therefore more water is issued from a pipe than a can per second. Wasteful? Well yes if you water your garden by time. If you always spend five minutes watering your flowers then you'll use more water with a hose than a can; except who does that? If a can produced 1 litre per minute and a hose 2 litre per minute you'd use the hose for half the length of time because it's the amount of water that's important.

And so to the final point - when a hose is used it's switched on and left on producing water; while a can only does so when actively used. Huzzah finally a solid point that a hosepipe uses more water than a can. Except who uses a hosepipe like that any more? Who doesn't have a spray nozzle or some form of trigger mechanism attached to the end of their hose? The answer according to the water companies is everyone.

Yep allegedly the water companies calculate that hosepipes are wasteful by assuming that users leave the hosepipes running constantly for 30 minutes. Sure that may have been the case 30 years ago, but nowadays?

With some form of trigger mechanism on the end a hosepipe is no more wasteful than a watering can as in both cases water is only produced on demand... just like turning a tap.

Yet use a hosepipe and face up to £1,000 in fines.

For those interested in the legal side justification falls under section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991 which makes interesting reading given that it only bans the use of hosepipes for

(a) watering private gardens; or
(b) washing private motor cars,
Want to wash your house with a hosepipe - go ahead. Clean your patio - fine. Have a water fight - no problem.

It's a con. It's a method of ramming home how 'serious' the water shortage is and how thankful we should be for paying for our supply from this monopolistic system. It's an anachronistic measure and should be removed from law.