Desert Island Britain

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

As the sun is continuing to shine this summer Brits might be surprised to hear that although the nation suffered a winter of snow and floods, most parts of the country will soon be getting ready for a hosepipe ban.

Some parts, such as Cumbria and the Lake District, are having a hosepipe ban put in force as early as the end of the first week of July 2010 and the reason for that is that, unlike in the South, they primarily do not have the aquifers, the underground reservoirs, but their ground has a bedrock strata which just make the water run away.

Therefore, despite snow and floods the reservoirs are running dry – the question is, in that case, though, why? – and, without the prospects of any significant rain, water saving measures will have to be put in place by the utility companies.

Water Saving With B&Q

B&Q has a range of advice and products to help customers use their water wisely, and reduce their daily consumption without resorting to shared baths and standpipes just yet.

And for anybody thinking that they can get away with a spot of midnight watering B&Q questioned 1000 homeowners with the following results:

  • Scottish homeowners are the most likely to report their neighbors for using a hosepipe during a ban

  • Those in Northern Ireland and Wales are less likely

  • In England, 12 per cent of us would drop our neighbors in it for ignoring a ban

Although B&Q saw sales of hosepipes increase by 61% during the week commencing June 13, 2010 in comparison with the previous week, it seems that Brits will have to keep them dry for the moment as the ban becomes reality. Reservoirs in the North West have become so dry that this week water supplier United Utilities announced that they were applying for permission to use water from Ennerdale Water in Cumbria to supplement the lack of water up North. Current weather forecasts show a continued heat wave putting other water companies on alert for a hosepipe ban in a bid to save their water supply.

A hose pipe ban is coming in effect in the first week of July 2010 in the Cumbria/Lake District area, and that despite the fact that that area has suffered severe floods during winter.

Water economy is both environmentally and economically wise, especially with the current weather conditions. The daily water consumption of the UK is increasing with an average of 150 litres a day used by individuals each day in England and Wales , and the UK now has less water available per person than any other EU country apart from Belgium and Cyprus.

Matt Sexton, Director for Social Responsibility at B&Q says: “With the hot weather looking to continue we really need to focus on preserving one of the earth’s most valuable resources. There are lots of ways to cut the amount of water we use throughout the year both inside and outside the house, without making significant changes to our lifestyles. Simply installing a water butt or fitting a dual flush kit to the toilet can really make a difference.”

Here, B&Q, the UK ’s leading home improvement and garden center retailer B&Q suggests how we can all do our bit and cut down on the amount of water we use in the house and garden.

The Garden - Outdoor water accounts for around 7% of total water use but can rise to over 50% in the summer.

  • Wash patio furniture, bikes and other outdoor items on the lawn so you don’t waste water.

  • Water plants and the garden in the morning or early evening to prevent evaporation in the heat of the day.

  • Use a mulch to lock in moisture and evaporation can be reduced by up to 75%. When applying check the soil is moist and apply a 50mm layer. All B&Q’s chipped bark mulches are made from Forest Stewardship Council certified timber - this helps to ensure that the forest habitats are not damaged. Try B&Q’s One Planet Home accredited moisture control organic mulch at £4.98 for 100 litres.

  • Water trees and shrubs along the drip line (below ends of branches) rather than near the trunk to help get water straight to the roots.

  • Switch from sprinklers to watering cans. This helps to target the water to exactly where it’s needed (plant roots). Many of B&Q’s watering cans are made from recycled plastic.

  • Store rainwater in a water butt such as B&Q’s One Planet Home accredited Sankey Slim Space Saving Water butt for £29.98

While rainwater harvesting system and already simple rain barrels and water butts are great if there is no rain they are a little difficult to fill up by Nature's hand then.

That does not mean that we should not get them and put them up; on the contrary. We should, indeed, get all house retrofitted with full-scale rainwater harvesting systems to be used in flushing the toilets and for watering the garden, washing bicycles and cars and such like.

The Bathroom - The bathroom can account for nearly two thirds of all domestic water use and so is the easiest place to start saving.

  • Taking a shower can use about a third of the water of an ordinary bath. Cut down on the amount of water you use in the shower further by fitting the Mira Eco shower head from B&Q priced from £29.98. This shower head mixes water with air and uses up to 75% less water.

  • Install low flush, dual flush toilets such as B&Q’s Aqua Sense reduced flush toilet priced £487. Dual flush kits for your toilet are also available priced from £19.98 and can save a family of four up to 20,000 liters of water a year.

  • Turning off taps when brushing teeth can save five liters of water a minute.

  • Fix leaking taps and fit aerators or spray ends to basin taps. A dripping tap can waste 15 liters of water a day, and a pack of washers costs as little as 42p. B&Q has also just launched Tapmagic priced £4.98, a dual flow tap adapter which can save water usage by up to 70%.

  • Another tips as regards to the toilet and water saving is the adage of “if it's yellow let it mellow – if it's brown flush it down”. Or, as the Mayor of London's office in the Planet Repair Kit stated “Don't rush to flush if it's only a pee”.

The Kitchen

  • Dishwashers and washing machines account for around 16% of the total volume of water used in the household. Reduce the amount of water wasted by putting on a full load of washing/dishes rather than a half load wash.

  • Wash vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap.

  • Keep a jug of water in the fridge to stop running the tap until it gets cold.

  • For further tips on water saving visit

B&Q is the largest home improvement and garden centre retailer in the UK and Ireland with 330 stores, employing more than 30,000 people nationwide, more than a quarter of whom are over 50 years of age, with a similar number under the age of 25. For more information about B&Q please go to

B&Q is part of Kingfisher plc, Europe ’s leading home improvement retail group and the third largest in the world. For more information about B&Q’s parent company visit

© 2010

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.