Hosepipe bans are ineffective and social media makes them obsolete – according to Yorkshire Water. Hosepipe bans are rarely used and there is little evidence to support their effectiveness, according to a new White Paper commissioned by Yorkshire Water. Estimates of average household usage are of 1% used on the garden and 1% on the car, so the impact of hosepipe bans is limited.

Yorkshire Water proposes making use of social media and targeted digital advertising to work with customers to reduce their water use year-round.

Recent research shows how changing attitudes make working with customers more effective than outright bans. Customers expressed a clear preference  to voluntarily reduce their water use both inside and outside the home all year round, rather than simply being banned from using a hosepipe when it’s most needed.

Yorkshire Water Chief Executive Richard Flint said, “Hosepipe bans were developed as a 20th century solution to drought, but we are now in a very different world. Social media means it’s now much easier to get messages to people and we have much more sophisticated ways of targeting information to make it easy for people to take action. We now need to ensure our drought plans reflect this, which might mean hosepipe bans are a tool that are no longer relevant.”

“We now need to work with customers and our regulators to figure out how we can work together to develop an approach to managing demand that takes account of the evidence of customer preferences, but also ensures robust protection for the environment. It is in everyone’s interest that we find an approach that is effective and backed up by evidence.”