Hosepipe ban for North West as drought fears grow

A water company has issued guidance to farmers in north-west England about how their businesses will be affected by an upcoming hosepipe ban.

The North West’s water company, United Utilities (UU,) announced on Tuesday (17 July) it will impose a hosepipe ban following the longest heatwave since 1976.

The ban will come into force on Sunday 5 August and will apply to domestic customers who get their water supply from UU, with the exception of customers in Carlisle and the north Eden Valley, where supplies remain at reasonable levels.

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UU said this year the region had seen about half the amount of rainfall it would usually expect between May and June.

The exceptionally dry conditions have challenged its water resources and with little rainfall to replenish stocks and storage, its reservoir levels are low. Therefore, it is introducing a ban to safeguard water for essential use.

Farm businesses will be allowed to use a hosepipe if this is directly related to the use of water for commercial purposes, such as washing down parlours, supplying animal troughs or irrigating crops.

Water restrictions

However, there will be restrictions on non-essential use of hosepipes, for example, cleaning a path outside a business property.

UU says it will “do its best” to address supply issues for farmers, particularly in terms of duty of care for livestock. Where possible, the company says it will provide farmers with non-potable water, which is suitable for livestock use only.

It has set up a dedicated team to manage the response to customers in these situations and provide support on a case-by-case basis. For information see www.unitedutilities.com or call on 0800 107 8861.

Rob Matthews, of rural insurance specialists Lycetts, said record temperatures and a lack of rainfall is taking its toll on farmers, who are increasingly faced with animal welfare and crop failure concerns. 

“Crops stopped growing six weeks ago and farmers have only got one of the usual two or three cuts of silage,” he added.

NI hosepipe ban to stay

Despite significant rainfall in Northern Ireland on Sunday (15 July) and more rain forecast for later this week, NI Water says the hosepipe ban will remain in place in the province.

Ivor Ferguson, president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, said the prolonged dry spell is causing real challenges on farms.

“Our immediate concern is water availability for crops and livestock. Also, dry weather has caused grass growth to slow, which will have a longer-term impact when it comes to fodder availability for the winter,” he added.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has urged farmers to use water wisely and be aware of regulations for drawing water from source.

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