Anglian Water hosepipe ban relaxed for turf growers and landscape gardeners
Water company bosses have relaxed hosepipe restrictions for turf growers and commercial gardeners in a bid to stop businesses being damaged by the ban.
Anglian Water (AW) enforced a hosepipe ban on all its domestic customers from April 5, although commercial water users were spared in order to prevent an adverse economic impact.
But turf growers and landscape gardeners were quick to point out that their businesses would struggle if they were unable to use domestic water supplies to water-in new lawns delivered to people's homes.
Those businesses are now exempt from the ban so they, and their clients, will be able to water newly-laid turf and plants with a hosepipe for up to 28 days.
Despite the wettest April on record, with heavy rain continuing throughout May, East Anglia is still in drought after two exceptionally dry winters, and the water-saving restrictions will remain in place for the rest of AW's 4.2 million domestic customers.
Paul Valleley, AW's director of water services, said: 'When we introduced the ban, we made clear it applied to domestic rather than commercial use because we wanted to avoid harm to businesses and the wider impact that would have on society.
'Businesses like turf growers and landscape gardeners were caught by the ban because they carry out their business on domestic property, using hosepipes and sprinklers to help newly laid lawns and plants to establish.
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'We have been talking to those businesses since the ban came in and are very pleased we can now take this step, which will help protect their livelihoods.'
AW has agreed Codes of Practice with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and the Turfgrass Growers Association (TGA) to ensure that the minimum amount of water is used, and as wisely as possible.
Tim Briercliffe, director of business development for the HTA, said: 'We are delighted that water companies have reviewed the restrictions on the landscape trade in light of the recent rainfall.
'Our members were facing serious business challenges as a result of the restrictions and this was likely to get worse with lost contracts and job losses. Much of this can now be averted thanks to this decision.
'Our members fully support the need for water efficiency and will do all they can to carry out water efficient practices, such as the use of drip watering systems, and to promote these to their customers.'
Angela Lambert, of Q Lawns in Hockwold, near Thetford, said: 'We are delighted that they (AW) have let up a little but it would be lovely to see it extended to domestic users of turf as well. At the moment, if a landscaper lays turf they can water it for 28 days, but that does not help people who want to lay turf themselves. It is good news, but it is only half-way there.'
Earlier this month Defra confirmed the AW region remained in drought despite the rain which has fallen since the introduction of the hosepipe ban, with groundwater levels still exceptionally low in some areas.
Mr Valleley said: 'After two years the British weather has finally been kinder to us in the last few weeks and we have been able to capture a great deal of the rain that has fallen in reservoirs.
'Nevertheless, the situation with the aquifers that supply more than half our water remains uncertain. Their recharge is a natural process and one which normally happens in winter when rain is free to seep through into these deep underground stores.
'It remains to be seen how much of the recent, unseasonably heavy rainfall finds its way into the aquifers and we could still face a hot summer with the chance of a third dry winter to follow.'