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Temporary use ban (TUB) advice

To protect our rivers and environment, we may put temporary use bans (hosepipe bans) in place in certain areas when water levels are low.

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What is a temporary use ban (TUB)?

A TUB, formally called a hosepipe ban, means there'll be restrictions on how much water you can use. We do this when our water sources are under pressure and we need to take action to protect them and water supplies.

For example, between August and November 2022, we introduced a TUB in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight. The River Test and Itchen are vital sources of fresh water here, and when levels dropped, we needed to introduce restrictions to protect them and save water.

We were able to lift the ban in November because river flows increased to levels where a TUB was no longer deemed necessary. But we must always be mindful of how much water we use to help preserve these precious habitats and make sure there's enough water to go around.

Our Drought Plan explains how we manage the balance of water supplies and demand while protecting the environment during times of drought, and TUB is part of this. 

Our water level resources show the latest figures from our main sources - groundwater, rivers and reservoirs.

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Search with your postcode to find out what phase of TUB you are currently experiencing.

Sorry we can't find your postcode, please view our FAQ for help.

Find out more about TUBs, and the impact this might have on you by clicking on each phase below.

Normal conditions Before restrictions (Level 1) Hosepipe restrictions (Level 2) Drought order restrictions (Level 3) Lifting restrictions
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What happens during this phase?

  • No restrictions

    During this phase you'll be able to use water as normal. However, we encourage you to keep saving water where you can, even when there are no restrictions in place. Find out how to help save water below.

What we'll do

  • Continue saving water

    We'll continue carrying out our ordinary water-saving and leak-reduction activities. Our Drought Plan explains what we'll do before implementing TUBs.  

What happens during this phase?

  • Preparing for drought restrictions

    During this phase, we'll be preparing for drought by monitoring rainfall, water levels and river flows. If river flows are dropping and continue to fall, we may have to introduce water restrictions to reduce the amount we take from the river.

    There won't be any restrictions in place yet, but we will encourage you to save water where you can and will provide tips for doing this. We will keep you updated on an impending drought as it progresses.     

What we'll do

  • Find and fix leaks

    Boost our work to find and fix leaks

  • Help you save water

    Promote ways to save water and advertise water-saving products

  • Raise awareness

    Use media campaigns to raise awareness that a drought is coming

  • Plan ahead

    Work with partner organisations to plan ahead to ensure a co-ordinated approach to interventions 

  • Think of the future

    Apply ‘drought mode’ to our water sources. For example, taking more water from rivers and reservoirs in the winter to allow underground sources to recover for the summer.

What happens during this phase?

  • Hosepipe restrictions

    When a drought is declared we'll take further action to save and supply water, including introducing the first stage of restrictions. You can find more information about these restrictions below (TUBs).

    We will also carry out enhanced media campaigns to publicise restrictions and encourage water savings. 

What we'll do

  • Provide extra water

    Bring forward schemes to get extra water

  • Regional drought strategies

    Put our regional drought strategy in place

  • Apply for drought permits

    Apply for drought permits to abstract more water, where it's available

  • Increase water supplies

    Increase supplies of water we get from neighbouring water companies

  • Reduce water sharing

    Reduce the amount of water we share with neighbouring water companies

  • Continue supply activities

    Continue all previous supply activities

  • Recommission

    Recommission mothballed sources

How do the restrictions affect you?

You can find more information below on what's restricted during the implementation of TUBs and what exemptions there are.

You may not water your garden or allotment using a hosepipe.

You're automatically exempt and may use a hosepipe to water your garden or allotment if:

  • you're watering food crops at domestic premises or private allotments
  • you're using a hose for health and safety reasons (the definition of 'garden' includes 'an area of grass used for sport or recreation' – only the active playing area, not the entire ground)
  • you're a Blue Badge holder
  • you're using an approved drip or trickle irrigation system fitted with a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) and timer.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re watering an area required in connection with a national or international sports event
  • you need to use a bowser or lance for health and safety reasons (e.g. working at height)
  • you’re watering a newly laid turf (for the first 28 days)
  • you’re on our Priority Services Register for reasons relating to reduced mobility.

During this phase, you won't be able to use a hosepipe to water plants on domestic or non-commercial premises.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • the plants are grown or kept for sale or commercial use
  • the plants are part of a national plant collection or temporary garden or flower display
  • you're a Blue Badge holder
  • you're using an approved drip or trickle irrigation system fitted with a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) and timer
  • you're watering 'standard' trees planted in the last three planting seasons that cannot reasonably be hand-watered or watered with non-potable water. A 'standard' tree is a tree with a single stem with a clear trunk (no side branches) at least 1.8m above the ground.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re watering a newly laid turf (for the first 28 days)
  • you’re watering newly-bought plants (for the first 14 days)
  • you're on our Priority Services Register for reasons relating to reduced mobility.

You may not clean a motor vehicle using a hosepipe. This includes using a pressure washer.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re using a hose to clean a motor vehicle as part of a business
  • you're on our Priority Services Register for reasons relating to reduced mobility.

You may not clean a private leisure boat using a hosepipe.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • you're cleaning any area of a private leisure boat which, except for doors or windows, is enclosed by a roof and walls
  • you're using a hose for health and safety reasons
  • it's for commercial cleaning
  • the vessel is a primary residence
  • fouling is causing increased fuel consumption
  • the boat's engine is designed to be cleaned with a hosepipe.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re using a hose to prevent or control the spread of non-invasive species
  • you're removing graffiti, if part of a service to customers.

You won't be able to fill or maintain a domestic swimming or paddling pool or hot tub. 

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • it's necessary in the course of the pool's construction
  • you use a hand-held container which is filled with water drawn directly from a tap
  • the pool is designed, constructed or adapted for use in the course of a programme of medical treatment
  • the pool is used for the purpose of decontaminating animals from infections or disease
  • the pool is used in the course of a programme of veterinary treatment
  • the pool is used to rear fish or other aquatic animals or keep them in captivity
  • you’re filling or maintaining a pool which has religious significance.

You won't be allowed to draw water or use a hosepipe for domestic recreational use and there are no exceptions to this.

You may not fill or maintain a domestic pond using a hosepipe.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • the pond is used to rear fish or other aquatic animals or keep them in captivity
  • you're a Blue Badge holder.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you're on our Priority Services Register for reasons relating to reduced mobility
  • you're filling and topping up a pond by fixed and buried pipes.

You may only use a hosepipe to fill or maintain an ornamental fountain if:

  • it's in or near a fish-pond and whose purpose is to supply sufficient oxygen to the water in the pond in order to keep the fish healthy.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re filling or maintaining a water feature with features of religious significance.

You may not clean walls or windows of domestic premises using a hosepipe. This includes removing graffiti, unless as part of a service to customers.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • you're using a hose for health and safety reasons
  • you're a Blue Badge holder.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re using a hose as a service to customers or as part of a business
  • you're on our Priority Services Register for reasons relating to reduced mobility.

You may not clean paths or patios using a hosepipe. This includes removing graffiti, unless as part of a service to customers.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • you're using a hose for health and safety reasons
  • you're a Blue Badge holder
  • it's for commercial cleaning.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

  • you’re using a hose as a service to customers or as part of a business
  • you're on our Priority Services Register for reasons relating to reduced mobility.

You may not clean artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe. This includes removing graffiti, unless as part of a service to customers.

You'll be automatically exempt if:

  • you're using a hose for health and safety reasons
  • you're a Blue Badge holder.

You may apply for our approval to use a hosepipe if:

you’re using a hose as a service to customers or as part of a business.

What happens during this phase?

  • We plan for this stage after river flows continue to drop.

    The third stage of the drought is severe drought with a return period of 1-in-20 years to 1-in-500 years. This is the final stage of a drought and covers those rare but severe events that we have seen in the past and could experience in the future. 

What we'll do

  • Source more water

    Source as much water from neighbouring water companies as we can. Move water between our other water resource zones as we can  

  • Operation of sources

    We will look at using more drought resilient water sources during this stage. 

  • Implement drought permits

    Start implementing new or extended drought permits to take more water from existing sources

  • Drought orders

    Use of drought orders in order to increase abstraction and/or restricting the use of water.  

How do the restrictions affect you?

You can find more information below on what's restricted during the implementation of TUBs and what exemptions there are. 

During this phase, you won't be able to water the following plants on commercial premises using a hosepipe:

  • plants which are in a pot or other container that is outdoors or under cover
  • plants which are in the ground under cover.

The only exceptions are if you are watering plants that are:

  • grown or kept for sale or commercial use
  • part of a National Plant Collection or temporary garden or flower display.

You won't be able to fill or maintain a non-domestic swimming or paddling pool.

The exceptions to this are if you're:

  • filling or maintaining a pool that is open to the public (this excludes pools only open to paying members of an affiliated club or organisation)
  • filling or maintaining a pool where necessary in the course of its construction
  • filling or maintaining a pool using a hand-held container which is filled with water drawn directly from a tap
  • filling or maintaining a pool that is designed, constructed or adapted for use in the course of a programme of medical treatment
  • filling or maintaining a pool that is used for the purpose of decontaminating animals from infections or disease
  • filling or maintaining a pool that is used in the course of a programme of veterinary treatment
  • filling or maintaining a pool in which fish or other aquatic animals are being reared or kept in captivity
  • filling or maintaining a pool that is for use by pupils of a school for school swimming lessons.

You won't be able to fill or maintain a pond during this phase.

The only exceptions to this are if you're:

  • filling or maintaining a pond in which fish or other aquatic animals are being reared or kept in captivity
  • filling or maintaining a pond using a hand-held container which is filled with water drawn directly from a tap (this doesn't include filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe).

You won't be able to operate a mechanical vehicle washer, whether automatic or not.

You won't be able to clean any vehicle, boat, aircraft or railway rolling stock using a hosepipe, other than for health and safety reasons.

You won't be able to clean any of the following using a hosepipe:

  • any exterior part of a non-domestic building other than a window
  • a non-domestic wall.

The only exception to this is if you're cleaning any exterior part of a non-domestic building or a non-domestic wall for health or safety reasons.

You won't be able to clean a window of a non-domestic building using a hosepipe, other than for health or safety reasons.

You won't be able to clean an industrial plant using a hosepipe, other than for health or safety reasons.

You won't be able to suppress dust using a hosepipe, other than for health or safety reasons.

You won't be able to operate a cistern in any building that is unoccupied and closed.

What happens during this phase?

  • Restrictions lifted

    During this phase, we'll lift restrictions and you'll be able to use water as normal.

What we'll do

  • Monitor water efficiency

    We'll continue our ordinary water efficiency and leak-reduction activities

  • Raise awareness

    For a period, we’ll also carry out activities to raise awareness about water sources.

  • Keep you informed

    During this period we will keep you updated about any changes in circumstances and the lifting of restrictions  

A child filling up a glass of water from a tap

We need to save water where we can

Whether there are restrictions in place or not, we ask that you continue to save water where you can. Where possible, we all need to use less water to help our rivers recover and protect the precious local habitats that rely on them.

Fortunately, saving water is easy. Just a few small changes to our daily routines can make a big difference and could help save you money on your bills too.

Head to our advice pages for tips on how to save water in your home and garden.

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