What is a Drought Order?
This legislation enables Water Companies to ban use of MAINS water for commercial use such as sports grounds, golf courses, etc. It should be noted that other water sources such as boreholes, lakes, streams, etc are NOT affected by this ban - these water sources are owned by the Environment Agency, not the water companies. Therefore, provided the abstraction license allows it, and the Environment Agency do not bring in any restrictions, then these water sources are unaffected.
Lots of water companies have 'Hosepipe bans' in place but these only affect domestic properties e.g. garden hoses, etc only - they DO NOT apply to commercial properties such as golf courses.
Who has a Drought order?
The 3 water boards below applied for Drought Orders in March '06 and were granted them by DEFRA in May. Only Sutton & East Surrey have implemented their ban so far (total ban of mains water for irrigation started 27th May for 6 months). The other companies are hanging back as more rain has fallen, but it is likely they will implement a ban later in the summer.
Sutton and East Surrey Water (Tel: 01737 772000, Website: www.waterplc.com
Southern Water (Tel: 0845 278 0845, Website: www.southernwater.co.uk
Mid-Kent Water (Tel: 01634 873033, Website: www.midkentwater.co.uk
In addition, Thames Water has, as of last week, applied to DEFRA for a Drought Order for their London regions- see this link for areas affected - www.thames-water.com/UK/region/en_gb/content/FAQ/FAQ_000055.jsp?SECT=FAQ_000055. This will entail a public hearing in the next month or so to allow objections to be heard and will take approx 2 months to go through the government system. If DEFRA award it, then it is likely that water restrictions will come into force sometime from August.
What can you do?
There are turf management steps to help reduce drought stress such as cutting heights, use of organics, wetting agents, spiking regimes, effective use of water whilst it is available. Early, preventative action is critical as there is limited things you can do once the drought is underway.
However, to keep short-mown turf alive, most Clubs have to look to bring in a replacement water source. This could come from the water company (e.g. Sutton & E Surrey have made a brown water borehole available - the water is free but you have to sort your own transport and access to the site is an issue). Alternative sources include private boreholes, lakes or tertiary treated effluent water. In all cases, transport is via tankers which can be sought from waste water/ liquid waste companies, private individuals or bought from vehicle dealers on a buy-back agreement (you will need a driver with a HGV license).
If you would like any further help or advice on the above issues, then please let me know - my contact details are below.
Please contact me on:-
Tel: 01372 270342 Mob: 07870 203916
STELLA RIXON, BSc (Hons), MBPR
STRI Agronomist South-East