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How are Drought Conditions Managed in England?

Drought management is set out in law in England that places legal obligations on the Environment Agency, Water Companies, and others to plan for and to manage drought. The law also requires individuals and organisations such as cricket clubs to restrict water use during periods of prolonged dry weather and drought.

Drought response in England is coordinated in a framework managed by the Environment Agency. That framework sets out an action plan that escalates with increasing drought severity. You can read about that framework here

This framework requires both the Environment Agency and Water Companies (the companies that supply your mains water) to plan their response to drought.

Those escalating actions are related to different ‘stages’ of drought:

Stage

Actions include

Normal (green)

  • Infrastructure investment to increase supply and reduce demand and waste.
  • Flood planning.

Prolonged dry weather (yellow)

  • Activating drought plans
  • Enhanced water efficiency messages from water companies

Drought (amber)

  • Restrictions on non-essential domestic, and commercial use

Severe drought (red)

  • Incident response mode
  • Emergency restrictions on all domestic and commercial use.

Recovering drought (amber)

  • Depends on severity of drought
  • Identify lessons learnt

 

How are Drought Conditions Managed in Wales?

The management of drought in Wales is similar to England but it is managed by Natural Resources Wales.

You can find out more information here: https://naturalresources.wales/guidance-and-advice/environmental-topics/water-management-and-quality/drought-planning-and-management/

'If you are subject to drought restrictions in Wales please also follow the guidance below.'

Types of restriction

There are essentially three types of restriction. In increasing order of severity and restriction these are:

  • Temporary Use Bans (sometimes referred to as ‘Hosepipe Bans’).
  • Drought Orders
  • Emergency Drought Orders

 

How can I find out if there is a restriction in place for my club?

You can find out what restrictions are in place in your area by visiting your Water Company’s website. The name of your water company and their website address will be on your water bill. Note that where your water is supplied by a different company from that taking your sewage, it is the water supply company that will be imposing restrictions.

Temporary Use Bans

About Temporary Use Bans

Temporary Use Bans (TUBs, sometimes known as ‘Hosepipe Bans’) are implemented by Water Companies under existing legal powers when water is in short supply in their region.

Following lessons learnt in the 2011-12 drought, Water Companies in England and Wales worked to provide a unified framework for establishing what is and what is not permitted under law where a Temporary Use Ban has been imposed. This code of practice is available here.

This means that it is reasonable to expect water companies to apply Temporary Use Bans in the same way and this guidance is based on that principle – you should always check with your particular water company to see what applies in your area.

Particular relevance to cricket is the following:

Under the legislation, Temporary Use Bans can ban ‘Watering of a garden using a hosepipe.’  In this category of use, the definition of ‘garden’ in the legislation includes ‘an area of grass used for sport or recreation.’

However, there is a statutory exemption to this restriction for ‘using a hosepipe to water a garden for health or safety reasons.’

The code of practice notes that: ‘Therefore it should be noted that watering areas of grass, which are used for sport or recreation, is covered by a Statuary Exception for health & safety only in relation to the active strip/playing area, not the entire ground.’

You will see this exact wording used in Temporary Use Ban notices.

Temporary Use Bans apply to the use of hosepipes and spray irrigation connected to mains water supplies. You can of course use a watering can filled from a mains water tap and you can use harvested rainwater (although harvested rainwater supplies are often exhausted by the time that TUBs come into force).

There may also be discretionary exemptions for the use of drip irrigation (that drip the water directly on to the soil surface), but drip irrigation systems are rarely used in cricket because they are not suitable.

Temporary Use Bans do not apply to professional cricket venues (First Class Cricket Venues in use for First Class or List A Cricket)

What does this mean for cricket?

  • The need for water to maintain safe participation is established in cricket, see; Effective and Efficient Watering in Hot, Dry Weather
  • Clubs in areas under Temporary Use Bans will be able to water pitches in preparation or in use, only on the grounds of safety.
  • The watering of used pitches and other parts of the square is only permitted where there is a risk to health and safety, for example:
    • The square is cracking, and this is affecting the safety of players.
    • Used ends need to be repaired only to provide safe surface levels to minimise injury to players from ball strike when fielding.
  • The majority of cricket clubs do not have the capability or the resources to irrigate outfields. In general outfields will go brown but should respond to rainfall once the dry weather or drought has passed and recover. There are some exceptions to this, in shallow rooted, very thatch outfields where additional repair works will be required after the drought – you can find more information on looking after your outfield, Cricket - Outfield Maintenance and if you have any queries, you should contact your County Pitch Advisor via your County Cricket Board.
  • Cricket clubs with the capability and resources to water outfields should only do so on the grounds of safety.
  • Water companies may impose peak hour restrictions on this exemption (e.g., no watering 0800-1000 and 1700-2100) – so check with your water company.
  • All cricket clubs should be using water effectively and efficiently – see Effective and Efficient Watering in Hot, Dry Weather
  • You do not need to seek the permission of your water company to apply water in accordance with legally permitted exemptions, but you are advised to keep records (see below).

What is not permitted?

  • You cannot water just to protect assets – so watering a square because the grass is dying or looks brown is not permitted, even if that means it will cost you money to rectify. Watering a square because it is cracking is not permitted unless that cracking is causing an issue with safety.
  • Watering a square after it has been renovated would not be permitted under a Temporary Use Ban (because there is no immediate threat to safety). Note that seed is unlikely to germinate in dry soils but if it does, seedlings will wilt and die if they are not supplied with water frequently after germination. Clubs in areas with Temporary Use Bans in place could consider delaying seeding into October (or even November if autumn temperatures permit) when rainfall is more likely. Note that this only applies to the seeding, fertiliser and any topdressing applied at the same time as seed.
  • Whilst you can use rainwater stored in a tank and apply it using a hosepipe or sprinkler, you cannot fill that tank with mains water and then apply it using a hosepipe or sprinkler.
  • Water flower beds or other non-playing areas including banks and surrounds with a hosepipe or sprinkler system.
  • Other activity covered by Temporary Use Bans

Being responsible with exemptions to Temporary Use Bans

Temporary Use Bans and Drought Orders are only used when water is in short supply, and this causes a threat to essential use of water such as drinking and bathing. We have a responsibility as a user of water to make sure that we are only using the water that we need, that we do not waste water and we are being as efficient as possible – please read our guidance on how to do that at Effective and Efficient Watering in Hot, Dry Weather

Note that other water users, such as domestic gardeners, allotment users and other sports where safety is not a risk will not be permitted to use hosepipes and sprinklers and we should be considerate to them.

Your water use might be challenged by members of the public, particularly in grounds near houses, roads and in public parks. Do not put yourself in danger, please be courteous and understanding – take the time to explain the reasons why your watering is exempt from the TUB on grounds of safety and the benefits of participation to your community. It might help to put signs up and all watering activity should be supervised – do not leave unattended.

Do not contravene the law and the exemptions, and always demonstrate best practice. It may help you to keep records of your water use to show that your watering is compliant with the regulations, these records should include:

  • Date, time, and duration of any water applied.
  • The pitch numbers / areas that the water was applied to.
  • The reason for the application.
  • The quantity of water applied (you can calculate this by timing how long it takes to fill a bucket see worked example below)
  • What equipment was used
  • Who applied the water?

How to calculate your water use:

Simply time how long it takes you to fill a bucket or other container of known volume using the equipment you use to apply water.

For example, using your hose and a stopwatch time how long it takes you to fill a builder’s bucket. Try to do this when no other water is being used on your supply (during showers for example).

A typical builder’s bucket has a capacity of around 14 litres, so if it takes 30 seconds to fill a 14-litre bucket, the water application rate is 28 litres per minute.

Application Rate = Container Volume / Time to fill

Application Rate = 14 L / 0.5 minutes = 28 L/min 

If you apply water for 30 minutes, then you will have applied 840 litres or 0.84 cubic metres).

Volume Applied = Application Rate x Application Time

Volume Applied = 28 L/min x 30 min = 840 L Volume Applied = 840 L / 1000 = 0.84 m3

Drought Orders

Drought orders are more severe restrictions and are authorised by the Environment Agency. Water Companies will detail restrictions they propose to include in Drought Orders in their Drought Plans which are published on their websites.

It is anticipated that the principles outlined in Temporary Use Bans above, will also apply under Drought Orders. This will be confirmed, and guidance updated, as necessary.

Emergency Drought Orders

Emergency Drought Orders are likely to be in place at the Severe Drought Stage and are expected to impose significant restrictions. This will need to be confirmed at that time and this guidance will be updated accordingly.