Gardener calls for grass-roots water rebellion


Thames Water has been castigated as a destroyer of lawns - not to mention fuchsias and camellias - for instituting a hosepipe ban on eight million householders earlier this month.

The ban outlaws the use of hosepipes and sprinklers for watering gardens or washing cars and has been introduced after two successive dry winters. The Environment Agency supports the ban and is warning that a long hot dry summer could lead to the worst drought for 100 years. Water conservation is essential, it says.

But gardeners, from a revered royal institution to allotment-holders, have been distinctly unimpressed.

The Royal Horticultural Society complains that gardeners in the South-east are being made to "carry the can" for low rainfall and the 793 million gallons of water that are lost every day in the UK because of leaky pipes. The society has published tips for saving water and a guide to legitimate use of hosepipes, such as cleaning garden furniture, which could be done on the lawn, opening a potential loophole.

The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners complains it is "daft" that car washes and swimming pools have water but hosepipes may not be used to water plants on which people have lavished so much money and time.

One garden designer, who has won 14 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, is going further by calling for an outright revolt. Paul Dyer is urging people to use their hosepipes - a real grassroots rebellion.

"Thames Water is not going to be able to prosecute hundreds of thousands of people," Mr Dyer said, who has received messages of support from fellow garden professionals and the public worried that well-tended plants will wither in the summer sun.

"Thames justifies the ban by saying: 'We are spending all this money fixing the leaks' but I feel gardeners are being victimised," he said. "More water is wasted in homes than in gardens.

"There is plenty of water in the Thames. Millions of gallons are going out to sea: why aren't they catching them?"

His complaint is that Thames Water has sold reservoirs for housing and that the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is blocking attempts to build a desalination plant.

Mr Dyer wants a "water martyr" to come forward and flout the ban openly and is offering to pay legal costs and any fine arising from a subsequent court case.

Under the Water Act 1991, members of the public can be fined £1,000 for breaking a hosepipe ban. More than 1,800 across southeast England have been warned about failing to follow the ban after being reported by their neighbours.

Most complaints have been to Southern Water, which has a hosepipe ban in force in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Thames Water has received about 100.

Unless the weather improves - that is, becomes wetter - the company may be forced to apply for a drought order that would ban the watering of public gardens and sports pitches, a move that could see Wimbledon trucking in water to keep Centre Court lush.

Thames Water was infuriated yesterday by the behaviour of Mr Dyer, who lives outside its area in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The company said water storage capacity had been increased despite the closure of some reservoirs and building a drought-proof water system would be prohibitively expensive for the one summer in 20 requiring a hosepipe ban.

"A sprinkler uses, in one hour, what a family of four uses in a day," a spokesman said. "Is it fair that a low-income family in the East End without a garden or a car should pay more so that a family in a leafy suburb can water their garden in a drought?"

In any case, the spokesman said: "We are not saying: 'Don't water your garden'. We are saying: 'Do it carefully with a watering can'."

For the foreseeable future, Mr Dyer does not intend to stop spouting. He believes garden designers may go bust because of the hosepipe ban; his own firm specialises in water features.

"I am not being irresponsible because I am highlighting the irresponsibility of Thames Water," he said.

The water regulations


* Fill a swimming pool

* Have a water fight in the garden with the family

* Hose down the dog or cat

* Clean the patio with a pressure washer

* Leave a hose running on your driveway

* Fill empty containers

* Fill all the watering cans/water butts you could ever want

* Leave a tap dripping for months

* Water your allotment


* Top up a planted pot

* Water the vegetables that will feed your family

* Connect drippers to water your patio plants

* Leave a porous hose running underneath your new hedge

* Water planted containers

* Use a spray rose on a hose to water your new lawn

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas