After the MET Office announcement that August was the wettest for 100 years, Thames Water has declared a ’compulsory hosepipe use’. The moves comes just weeks after lifting a hosepipe ban that was enforced as a result of the wettest drought since records began.
Thames Water’s CEO Martin Baggs explained the reasons behind the move. ‘Our reservoirs are now full to bursting point. As well as them overflowing, there is a real danger one of them could spring a leak. As all of our repairs are done in-house, it could be October 2013 before it’s fixed properly. That’s why we’re asking all our customers to use their hosepipes to transport water from our reservoirs, to their taps, and on to the street.’
Those opposed to the move have pointed out that if every house pours water into the street there is risk of flooding, but Mr Baggs was quick to point out that contingency plans for that eventuality are in place. ‘Should any properties start to flood, call us, and we promise to get sandbags out to you within a week.’
As with hosepipe bans, the compulsory use of hosepipes will be enforced by way of a fine for those found not wasting as much water as possible. This has led to complaints that ‘Enforcers’ have been over-zealous. One man in Enfield was fined £1,000 after his neighbours reported him to the authorities. ‘I have been suffering money problems and decided to end it all’ he moaned, ‘but I wasn’t even able to do that. Just as I was entering an unconscious and peaceful state I was woken by a knock at the car window. Stood there was a man holding the hosepipe I used to get the exhaust fumes into the car in one hand, and a fine of a grand for ‘misuse’ in the other.’
However despite the criticism, Thames Water has stood by its decision. ‘We can’t handle this much water falling, from the sky of all places. So far we have had over 366mm this August. To demonstrate how much that is, when you complain to us it is about the same as all the two fingers our staff stick up to you put together.’
It is believed that this measure will be in place until the UK sees three consecutive days of sunshine, at which point a hosepipe ban is expected to be put into place. When asked what the likelihood of compulsory hosepipe use working is, Mr Baggs assured the public ‘This plan is as watertight as one of our underground pipes’.