Impending Drought Orders

Stella Rixonin Industry News
Impending Drought Orders

Stella Rixon, BSc (Hons), MBPR
STRI Agronomist South-East

To date 3 Water Companies - Southern Water, Mid Kent Water and Sutton and East Surrey Water have applied to the Secretary of State for Drought Orders, that if granted would allow them ban non-essential use. These bans would mean these water companies could stop a wide variety of water uses, including watering sports grounds and golf courses. However, each water company, in conjunction with DEFRA, will decide on what bans to put in place in their particular area.

The Drought Orders have been applied for the areas listed below:-

Southern Water - Sussex North and Sussex Coast - Kent Medway, Kent Thanet and Hastings

Mid-Kent Water - All of their supply area - map can be found at:
Sutton and East Surrey - All of their supply area - map can be found at:

I understand from the Water Companies involved that, following the hearings in each area, the Inspector's report has been submitted and they expect to hear back within the next couple of weeks. This will determine if and to what extent the Drought Order may affect golf courses and sports grounds within these areas.

Keep Updated

Obviously close liaison with your Water Company is necessary to keep updated on the latest decisions, which may change throughout the year. Their websites generally have up to date information. In the event of the Drought Order being granted, your Water Company would write to you explaining the extent to which it will affect your site.

Impending Drought Orders:-

Sutton and East Surrey Water (Tel: 01737 772000, Website:
Southern Water (Tel: 0845 278 0845, Website:
Mid-Kent Water (Tel: 01634 873033,

Other Suppliers:-
South East Water -
Thames Water -
Three Valleys Water -
Essex + Suffolk Water -
Portsmouth Water -
Folkestone + Dover -

If you're not sure who your supplier is, look at your Water bills or visit the following map: 1131486/

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Other Useful Websites:

More information on drought orders in general can be found on website:
Keep up to date with likely water restrictions in your area by visiting the Environment Agency's website. Weekly updates can be found on the following pages:

Supporting Your Case to Water

It is illegal to restrict trade and therefore any information you can gather on how a Drought Order would negatively impact on your trade would be useful. It would be worth seeking legal advice on your position. You may be able to argue that the ban would result in loss of business. I would advise collating the following information which could strengthen your case for water use:-

Visitor Income Calculate the importance of visitor income to the Club and the impact it would have on the business if this dropped off due to non-irrigation.

Justification of Water Use I t is important to show to that current water use is efficient and necessary to maintain the playing surfaces and that water is not being wasted. The Club could show understanding of the water shortage problem by carrying out the following:-

· Irrigation System Audit This would be useful to assess the efficiency of your system.
· Reductions made to Current Demands Records on reductions made to irrigation inputs e.g. watering essential areas only such as golf greens.
· Agronomic Advice Specialist advice could help strengthen your case in proving what water use is essential to keeping your turf alive and showing the Club are taking all possible measures to take to reduce drought susceptibility. Also, budget costs associated with remedial work in the event of loss of grass cover.

In the event of a Drought Order being enforced, some general advice is given below.

Drought Stress Prevention Measures

Early Action

· Aeration is Critical It is essential that thorough aeration is undertaken as soon as possible to de-thatch and decompact all surfaces thoroughly whilst root growth is good and water is available. Thatch and compaction prevent water from percolating through the soil PDF created with FinePrint pdfFactory Pro trial version and therefore result in shallow rooting, loss of water through surface evaporation and poor drought resistance. This work must be undertaken before dry conditions occur.

· Deep Soaks Whilst water is available, ensure the profile is deep soaked once a week to moisten the full depth of the rootzone to 200mm.

· Wetting Agents + Organic Amendments Both these materials will help against drought stress. Apply for best success, for example - apply wetting agents as a drench or water well into the profile, tine and brush seaweed meal or other suitable organic source into the surface. Start applying as soon as possible, preferably before drought stress occurs.

· Alternative Water Sources Investigate local alternative water sources - you may be able to buy tankered water. Look in your Yellow Pages under Waste Disposal Services, and in particular liquid waste collection. You may be able to source water from a private extractor e.g. lake, borehole. Alternatively, it may also be possible get permission to use final treated effluent water. Again a local waste disposal company should be able to help and this also requires seeking permission from the Environment Agency.

General Advice

- Raise cutting height + reduce mowing frequency - e.g. Golf greens at 5 - 8mm, >18mm for tees/approaches, ~25-30mm for fairways. Return clippings on longer turf.
- Cease Grooming/ verticutting/ scarifying.
- Monthly wetting agent programme, commencing in the spring.
- Use of seaweed meal on 2 occasions and monthly liquid top-ups.
- Regular pencil tining to ensure water penetrates into the ground rather than evaporating off the surface. Aerate just prior to watering/ rainfall.
- Do not topdress in drought conditions - the sand is too abrasive.
- Switch to liquid fertilisers, not granular.
- Playing off mats on tees and fairways will help protect the turf.
- Limit buggy and trolley use.
- Treatment with a 100% organic amendment (spring and autumn) can greatly improve drought resistance e.g. recycled green waste humus, composted vegetable/ animal waste.

If you would like further agronomic help and advice, I would be happy to assist.
Please contact me on:-
Tel: 01372 270342 Mob: 07870 203916
STRI Agronomist South-East
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