The United Kingdom is facing a drought that has forced some water companies in south-east England to impose a ban on using hosepipe to water gardens and a failure to obey the order can invite fines of up to 100 pounds.
Many believe that love of gardening is one of the defining traits of being British, but not many in parts of greater London and south-east England are happy about the hosepipe ban that prevents them from doing one of the most enjoyable things in life.
Failure to obey the ban can invite fines of up to 100 pounds. Parts of England have experienced one of the driest two-year periods on record, with water companies struggling to meet demand. Nearly 20 million people have been affected by the ban.
The government and the companies have asked people to be smarter about how we use water", but the are exemptions for grass and surfaces used for the forthcoming Olympics.
A survey by the National Trust found that more than 70 per cent of people felt it was important to spend time in gardens, and over half of those said it was the most enjoyable thing they did.
According to gardening historian Twigs Way, Britain's love of gardening is rare. She says, "Having a house with a garden is something that almost everyone aspires to, whereas much of the rest of Europe have traditionally been happy with apartments and flats. The companies that have imposed the hosepipe bans are Thames Water, Southern, South East, Anglian, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East.
Areas most affected by drought are East Anglia, the South East and parts of Yorkshire. With the ban in force, people have been issued advice on smarter use of water, such as, to install water-saving devices in toilets, keep used bathwater and washing-up water to wash the car, turn off the taps when brushing teeth or shaving, and to grow the grass "a little longer".
Due to the dry spell, water companies say they have no option but to impose the hosepipe ban to preserve essential supplies, and expect the ban to last all summer.
Anglian Water managing director Peter Simpson told the BBC, "Two dry winters have prevented rivers, reservoirs and aquifers from refilling with the water we treat and supply the rest of the year, especially during the hotter months when demand rises."
Sutton and East Surrey operations manager Mike Hegarty added, "We have said from the outset that we very much regret having to impose this bar but this drought is becoming increasingly serious. We have no choice if we are to protect our customers by ensuring the long-term security of their water supply."
Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and west Norfolk have been declared drought affected since last summer.