A Pool and Spa Scene special report on the implications of the drought on water leisure
businesses by Kim Tierney and Christina Connor…
Water companies that are about to impose a hose pipe ban in drought-affected areas of England, are misleading pool and spa businesses and their customers about the ban’s potential impact. Advice, being given by the water authorities themselves, that hot tubs cannot be filled after April 5, is both misinformed and factually incorrect. Contrary to advice being issued, hot tubs and the filling of newly constructed swimming pools are not affected by hose pipe bans. However, the topping-up of existing swimming pools and the filling of swim spas, via hose pipes, is not allowed. Nevertheless, a clause protecting the livelihoods of business may be a way of completely side-stepping any restrictions altogether; restrictions that can also be by-passed by the use of water storage tanks, rain harvesting and by hand-filling.
Many hot tub retailers have contacted Pool & Spa Scene, the voice of the pool and spa industry, with examples of misinformation.
In all cases, pool and spa businesses are urged to challenge statements by water authority officials via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the water services regulation authority, (Ofwat) Sunil Sharma of Aqua Hot Tubs in Berkshire reports: “I contacted the customer services department of my local water authority who told me hot tubs will be banned. I thought this was wrong so I asked for a manager. I then spoke to a team leader and she also stated hot tubs will be banned. I now know this is not the case.”
Ray Wells, logistical and customer care manager for the Hot Spring UK network, had a similar experience: “The person on the phone was adamant hot tubs were going to be affected and a manager backed her up. But when I talked to DEFRA they had to go back to the water authority who then rang to apologise, acknowledging they had made a mistake.”
Chris Hayes of the British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association and the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association, a group that represents about 200 companies involved in the water leisure said: “We have been consistently told that hot tubs are not included on the list of activities that can be prohibited under the Temporary Water Use Ban (Hosepipe ban) and having sought further advice, swim spas will be permitted to be prohibited,” he said. “In terms of swimming pools, they can be prohibited from being topped up in a hosepipe ban, but the list of exemptions in the regulations includes pools under construction that can be filled. Therefore, the Water Authorities appear to have jointly put out a press release that has inaccuracies in their message.”
For the first time since 2005/2006 and with predictions of standpipes being issued for the first time since 1976, seven firms are to introduce water restrictions as a result of two unusually drywinters which have left reservoirs below normal levels.
Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are all to bring in restrictions on water use in the drought-stricken South East and East Anglia regions.
It is interesting to note that six of those same ten did not achieve their leakage targets in 2010/11. Two of these, Anglian and Southern are in the areas covered by the drought measures. Anglian have to report to OFWAT every three months on their performance, whilst Southern Water situation was so bad, OFWAT have extracted a legal undertaking from them to comply.
Thames Water, loses 665m litres of water per day, the equivalent of 266 Olympic swimming pools and enough to supply the equirements of 1.47m families. Martin Baggs CEO of Thames Water received £1,168,425 (£1,247,711) in pay in 2010/11 (2009/10) and £79,495 (£25,824) in pension contributions.
Anglian Water loses 230m litres per day, the equivalent of 92 Olympic size pools and enough water to supply more than half
a million families every day. Managing Director of Anglian Water Peter Simpson received £896,000 (£692,000) in pay in 2010/11 (2009/10) and £46,000 (£25,000) in pension contributions.
Southern Water loses 96 million litres per day, the equivalent of 38.4 Olympic size pools and enough to supply more than 200,000 family households. The highest paid director at Southern water received £361,000 (£731,000) in pay in 2010/11 (2009/10) and £82,000 (£80,000) in pension contributions. The reason why it was so low in 2010/11 is because for much of the year, they were without a permanent CEO.
Water Authority Leakage Rates
Water Authority Leakage Per Day Olympic Pool Equivalent Families This Could Supply
Thames Water 665m 256 1.47m
AnglianWater 230m 92 508,900
Southern Water 96m 72.4 212,410
In Relation To
Speaking of the water companies, John Green, of Midlands-based JW Green Swimming Pools comments: “We are being charged a lot of money to buy and dispose of our water, to fill the pockets of investors. So can someone please tell me the percentage of population and water demand increase since 1976.” John continues: “In proportion, how many more reservoirs have been installed and what provision have the water companies made for an extra safety margin, to cater for the needs of modern society.
“I think it is way past time a few more valleys was dammed off and more input into extracting river water for or diverting it to reservoirs.” But, John points out: “Perhaps the water shortage can open another door for swimming pool installers, by us providing rain harvesting tanks for clients new and old. On new builds, we could offer the facility in tandem with the swimming pool shell.”
John Cox of Osprey Pools in Monmouthshire, Wales, agrees: We install pools so why not rain water harvesting! The two go together quite well. I’ve installed a few domestic sewage treatment plants and septic tanks in my time so nothing too technical to study up on I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time but thought the market wasn’t ready for it. John adds: “I quess the scare tactics by the media has prompted me to begin offering this extra service and I have already begun dedicating a webpage on installing water tanks.