Water usage advice issued for recreational boaters

Find out what adjustments you may need to make to your usual activities.
12 Aug 22
Two men cleaning a boat with a bucket and brushes

Due to the recent dry weather conditions, some water companies have announced Temporary Usage Bans (TUBs) / hosepipe bans across regions of the country. 

The rules differ between water companies but Water UK’s Code of Practice sets out general good practice for water companies in England and Wales to follow when they are evaluating how and when to implement restrictions (Scotland Water and NI Water are not subject to the same legislation but have agreed to apply the principles of good practice).

The key points affecting boating:

  • The cleaning of private leisure boats using a hose pipe is prohibited.
  • Boat owners should not clean privately owned boats/kayaks/SUPs etc. using a hose pipe. 
  • Owners may wash boats by hand, using a bucket and the use of recycled water or rainwater is encouraged.
  • Clubs and training centres can clean club and centre owned boats, although we would suggest they refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary.
  • Outboard engines which are designed to be washed using a hosepipe are permitted a discretionary exception to do so.
  • There is a potential inconsistency between boatyard / marina businesses being able to wash off a commercial vessel with a hosepipe, but not domestic customers. You can expect marinas to prohibit the use of hose pipes for the washing of privately owned boats.
  • Using a hose pipe to fill up water tanks is permissible.   

Statutory Exceptions 

The restrictions to cleaning a boat do not cover the following: 

(1) cleaning any area of a private leisure boat which, except for doors or windows, is enclosed by a roof and walls. This entails cleaning the inside of the cabin, if it is fully enclosed.

(2) Using a hosepipe to clean a private leisure boat for health or safety reasons, which includes: 

  • removing or minimising any risk to human or animal health or safety; and
  • preventing or controlling the spread of invasive species. 

Discretionary Universal Exceptions: 

  • Those with mobility issues, as evidenced through the possession of a Blue Badge; 
  • Small commercial operators whose business partially or wholly depends on work involving the washing of private recreational craft or valeting using hosepipes; and 
  • Those using vessels as a primary residence, which should be subject to the same constraints as any other domestic customer when restrictions are imposed. 

Discretionary Concessional Exceptions Suggested cases include: 

  • Customers on the company’s Vulnerable Customers List who have mobility issues but are not in possession of a Blue Badge; 
  • Cases in which the fouling of hulls is causing increased fuel consumption by the drag created;
  • For engines designed to be cleaned with a hosepipe; 
  • For the removal of graffiti; and 
  • To prevent or control the spread of non-native and/or invasive species.
  • In appears increasingly likely that further water companies will be introducing TUBs over the upcoming days or weeks, and it is advisable to check your water supplier’s website as rules and conditions may differ between companies. 

Further information about TUBs can be found on the Water UK website. 

You can also find further guidance on how to save water both on-board and on-shore on The Green Blue website.