Fears over hosepipe ban quashed by water bosses

A commercial gardener using a hose pipe to water a newly laid flower bed
A commercial gardener using a hose pipe to water a newly laid flower bed

DESPITE the scorching weather and lack of rain, water bosses insist a hosepipe ban is not on the horizon - for the moment at least!

As temperatures in Wigan soared to 23 degrees celsius yesterday, United Utilities have swiftly moved to reject fears of a turn-off, describing reservoir levels as ‘very healthy’.

Worries over the possibility of a ban came as British Waterways urged local barge users to ‘double up’ in the locks so as not to waste water.

A United Utilities spokesman said: “There is no truth that a hosepipe ban is being planned.

“Reservoir levels are very healthy after we have had plenty of rain in the build up to the heat.

“People may have read in the national press about speculation in other parts of the country but there are no issues here.”

That isn’t the case for barge users on the Leeds-Liverpool canal though who are taking advanced action to ensure water levels are kept high.

Last summer, a large stretch of the canal – including the whole of Wigan – was closed for around seven weeks due to a lack of water.

While it was permissible for barges to use the flat sections, all locks were kept closed to prevent any waste.

This affected many local businesses along the canal route.

And canal users are now being asked to go through locks in pairs to ensure minimal water is wasted, with signs being placed upon the canal banks.

A British Waterways spokesperson said it was “optimistic” that it would not have to close the canal this year.

However, she added: “Water resources are scarcer across the country and it’s important that canal users take due care.”

The Leeds-Liverpool canal is built on a slope with the reservoirs at the top and the water flowing out into the River Aire.

By doubling up each time they pass through a lock, barge users minimise the amount of water that is taken from the reservoirs.

Crooke Cruising Club commodore Malcolm Holbrook said: “This weather is like a double edged sword. Whilst it is beautiful, it also means water needs to be saved.

“Thankfully the reservoirs are full, the last thing we need is a repeat of last year. You usually expect this heat in July and August, not April.

“Fortunately, with being in a club, we often go out in groups but if we are on our own, we could be waiting hours for another barge to come along.”

However despite healthy levels in the local reservoirs, gardeners are still being asked to choose plants that don’t require too much water when planting this summer.