Residents in southern England have been encouraged to report their neighbours to water companies if they find them repeatedly breaching the outdoor water-use restrictions during the ongoing drought.
The first hosepipe bans—also known as temporary use bans (TUBs)—were introduced on Aug. 5 in parts of southern England, with further restrictions earmarked for the Southeast of England and southwest Wales later this month.
Rule-breakers face fines of up to £1,000 ($1,205) if taken to court, although water companies say they prefer “education over enforcement.”
Southern Water, which has imposed water-use restrictions on households in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, encouraged people to “gently remind” neighbours of the restrictions if they see anyone breaking the rules.
The company also urged residents to report on repeated violations.
A spokesman said: “If you see anyone repeatedly breaching the restrictions, please let us know via our customer service team. A fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed for any breaches.
“Our approach is one of education rather than enforcement. We would like to thank all our customers for supporting these restrictions and for doing your bit to protect your local rivers.”
Months of little rainfall, combined with record-breaking temperatures in July, have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs, and dried out soils.
The Met Office has warned there is “very little meaningful rain” on the horizon for parched areas of England.
Southern Water said it is asking customers “to limit your use to reduce the risk of further restrictions and disruption to water supplies, but more importantly to protect our local rivers.”
The current restrictions cover using a hosepipe to water a garden, clean a vehicle, or wash windows. They also include filling a paddling pool, domestic pond, or ornamental fountain.
The ban does not affect essential and commercial uses of water, such as commercial window cleaners and car washes, or businesses that need water as part of their operations, such as zoos.
Similar measures will be introduced for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex on Aug. 12.
The firm said it was taking the step “to ensure we have enough water for both essential use and to protect the environment” and to enable a reduction in the amount of water “we need to take from already stressed local water sources.”
Welsh Water also announced it will bring in a hosepipe ban on Aug. 19 to cover Pembrokeshire.
PA Media contributed to this report.