Hose Pipe Ban

Removal of Hosepipe Connections

All Ealing Council allotment tenants should have received a letter from Ealing Council explaining the background to the removal of threaded hosepipe connections from the taps supplying water to council allotments. For those who have not, and for interested tenants of other Ealing allotments, a copy can be accessed by clicking on hose pipe. The basic problem, as explained in the council letter, is legislation aimed at preventing the possibility of contamination of mains drinking water by back-siphoning.

The removal of the existing hosepipe connections is of particular concern to the elderly and infirm who have difficulty in moving water around their plots. A number of tenants have contacted EAP asking if their problems could be avoided by the use of taps fitted with non-return valves. EAP has discussed this with council representatives. We are informed that the water regulations require different standards of protection for different risk categories. Allotments are rated as category 5 risks. Unfortunately, while the use of such taps to provide back-flow prevention is allowed for up to category 3 risks, an air gap is required for category 5 risks. As such, the use of taps with non-return valves would still be a breach of current legislation. We gather that the Council is seeking advice on some points of law. News of any further developments will be posted.

Posted 20th April 2011

Hosepipe Ban

No good news to report on this front. The Council ban on the direct attachment of hosepipes to allotment mains supplies appears to be a permanent one. Suggestions from tenants that the installation of non-return valves would overcome the possibility of back-siphoning and possible contamination of the mains supply have been consistently ruled out by Thames Water on the basis that allotments are high-risk (Category 5) environments that must be protected by an air-gap between the mains and the point of delivery. The basis of this Category 5 assignment has been questioned by many tenants. Allotments are not explicitly specified in the relevant legislation and guidance details (Water Supply (Water Fitting) Regulations 1999) but it is made clear that the list of Category 5 environments provided in the regulations is not exhaustive. Thames Water’s interpretation of the regulations is, in principle, open to legal challenge. However, references elsewhere in the regulations to non-domestic soil watering systems, horticultural sites, fertilisers, pathogens etc., suggest that such a challenge is unlikely to be successful It is our understanding that under the circumstances there is little, or no, chance that the Council will mount such a challenge.

Posted 9th June, 2011