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Press release

Gardeners urged to ditch the evening sprinkler as peak water demand surges

The record dry weather is bringing record peaks in water demand. After the driest May since records began, households are being asked to think carefully about the water they are using to help ease demand at peak times. Avoiding using a garden sprinkler at peak demand time in the evening would make a big difference to water pressure.

There’s no shortage of water, but everyone using more at the same time while enjoying the sunny outdoors can lower water pressure, affecting how well it flows out of the taps. Water companies are providing advice on how to be water-efficient in this hot weather to keep the pressure up for everyone.

However, it’s important to stress that people should keep following the guidance on protecting their health during COVID-19, making sure they wash their hands regularly.

The companies have seen a huge rise in demand for water from households recently, particularly during the evenings. The average overall increase in water use is 20%, with some areas seeing peak demand of up to 40% above normal for this time of year. That represents a UK-wide increase of more than 2.2 Billion litres per day being used, the equivalent of 900 Olympic-size swimming pools. Water use has risen due to the combination of people having to stay at home during the COVID-19 lockdown and the record dry weather, which has seen more water being used in gardens.

Water UK Chief Executive Christine McGourty said:

“It’s a great time to be out in the sunshine if you can, but this record sunny weather is bringing record peak demands for water. Just small changes through the day will make all the difference, and there are plenty more tips on staying wise about water in these unprecedented times.  The less water we use at peak times, the less likely it is that water will be ‘under pressure’.”

Janet Manning, Water Management Scientist at the Royal Horticultural Society said:

“What people may not realise is that nature is tough, and budding gardeners need to resist the temptation of overdoing it by overwatering the garden, as it’s simply not needed even if we are in the middle of a dry spell,” she said.“Lawns in particular are surprisingly resilient in hot weather conditions and recover really quickly, and quicker if you raise the mower blades or stop mowing altogether. Even if the grass starts to look a bit dry, or yellow, there’s really no need to worry – it’ll bounce back and doesn’t need to be watered every day, so it’s best to leave the sprinklers off.”

Water UK and water efficiency campaign group Waterwise have joined forces to offer advice to customers on how to reduce their water use while still remaining healthy and hydrated. There are steps everyone can take, such as shorter showers, making sure dishwashers are full and on an eco setting, using a watering can instead of a hose or sprinkler in the garden, and re-using paddling pool water on flower beds. More advice is available on Water UK, Waterwise and water company websites.

There are good supplies of water in reservoirs after a wet winter, and there are currently no plans for hosepipe bans in the UK.

Find more tips for saving water particularly during the pandemic here