Flouting the hosepipe bans that are sweeping the country comes with a hefty financial penalty of up to £1,000 – except it seems nobody has ever actually had to pay it.
Water companies can fine guilty hosepipe users who are defying a ban under the Water Industry Act 1991. But no company can confirm ever having issued one in the 31 years since this was introduced.
Out of England’s 15 water companies, seven said that they have never used the legislation to fine people for breaching hosepipe bans, according to research by The Times.
These companies were Thames Water, Anglian Water, Wessex Water, Bristol Water, Portsmouth Water, Yorkshire Water and South West Water. Combined, they cover 56pc of England’s population – more than 31 million people.
A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Water said that customers “respond well” to the restrictions, while Thames Water said that it preferred to “have a calm and sensible discussion” with anyone breaking the rules, rather than enforcing a fine.
Yorkshire Water this weekend became the first water company in the North of England to announce a hosepipe ban, following South East Water and Southern Water in the South. Thames Water in London has said it is considering introducing a ban.
Of the remaining companies contacted by The Times, seven companies did not respond to the question, while one – Southern Water – declined to provide the information.
A drought has been declared in half of England after the country recorded its driest July since 1935 ahead of another heatwave expected to peak this weekend.
Eight of England’s 14 environment agency areas now have drought status. These are: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Hertfordshire and north London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, East Midlands.
Yorkshire and the West Midlands are expected to join the list later in August.
Water companies have been criticised for introducing hosepipe bans while failing to fix leaks that account for 20pc of the country’s daily water usage.
Even if every water company in the country imposed a hosepipe ban, it would only save half as much water as is lost each day to leaks. According to Water UK, a trade body, a hosepipe ban will save 1.5 billion litres of water a day – 10pc of what is used nationally.
Twice this – more than £3 billion litres – is lost each day via leaks, according to Ofwat, the regulator.