SOME of Horsham’s bloom will be lost in 2012 as avid gardeners are hit by a new hosepipe ban and other water restrictions, effective from April 5.
The measures imposed by Southern Water will restrict the use of hoses and sprinklers primarily for domestic use in Sussex, including watering of public parks, gardens and allotments, filling swimming and paddling pools, ponds, fountains and restricted use of any apparatus connected to a hosepipe.
Horsham in Bloom will be reducing the number of hanging baskets in the town centre, but most groups contacted by the County Times welcomed the move, embracing the effort to save water.
However, David Moore, chairman of the Horsham Society, raised concerns about development.
He said: “The hosepipe ban coming so early in the year, has to bring into question whether the water infrastructure in south east England is adequate for our present needs let alone for the many thousands of additional homes that are planned.
“Whenever we see planning applications for new housing the water authorities say there is no problem meeting future demand when clearly this isn’t the case. Worse still is that there doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to link new housing to improvements in water capacity.”
Horsham in Bloom meanwhile is urging everyone ‘to do their bit’ to conserve water. The organisation is launching its annual ‘Every Drop Counts’ campaign on May 16.
Liz Trimmer, vice-chair of Horsham in Bloom, said: “The Committee has taken the decision to not have sponsored railing planters around the town this year in order to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and conserve sufficient supplies to water the remaining baskets and other plantings.
“Horsham in Bloom’s major project for this spring is the creation of an exciting new planting scheme in North Street which is currently underway.”
The chairman of Horsham & District Horticultural Society Lynda Ashby, said from personal experience that most gardeners she knew would not be too troubled by the ban.
“It is a good thing that we are conserving now,” she said, “so in the summer we have water when we need it the most. Most of the people have water butts and we have had talks on conserving water.”
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has praised Southern Water and other companies for allowing drip irrigation during periods of water restrictions.
Elsewhere the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds urged people to ‘Step up for Nature’, reducing the potential impact on wildlife and the environment. The RSPB’s Steve Gilbert said: “This serious and prolonged drought has already had a big impact on RSPB wetland nature reserves.
“Today’s announcement of a hosepipe ban is a clear signal that we all need to do our bit to reduce our impact on the environment and help avoid further damage. Saving water will ensure more stable, resilient habitats for the birds and other wildlife that depend on our water environments for their survival.”
GMB, the water workers union, said that the situation vindicated moves they had called for in recent years.
Mick Rix, GMB national officer for the water industry, said: “That Thames Water in 2012 now say that they will move water from the west of Britain to the South East and East of England is a belated recognition that what GMB members working in the water industry have been saying for years is right. What they are doing now is welcome but it comes too late to stop the hose pipe ban.”
These are the first water restrictions since 2005/06, with six other utility companies in the South East following suit.
Meyrick Gough, water strategy manager for Southern Water, said: “While firmly playing our part in managing supplies we will continue to offer customers advice on how they can avoid wasting water in the garden and the home, as part of our Save Water, Save Energy, Save Money campaign.”
He added: “As the weather gets warmer, the demand for water will rise and, therefore, to safeguard supplies throughout the summer we need to restrict the amount of water used in gardens.”
According to Southern Water’s figures gardening water accounts for six per cent of supplied water, but this can rise to 70 per cent on a hot day. It also says that reducing garden-use water will safeguard supplies for drinking and household use.
Southern Water finished the £10m on the Hardham reservoir near Pulborough earlier this month, containing a reserve which could supply 70,000 people in a time of drought.
The County Times revealed two weeks ago that as Southern Water rolls out its metering programme the company loses 83 million litres of water a day, 10 million below the regulator’s target.
Horsham District Council is set to discuss the impact of the metering programme on vulnerable residents next month.