The RYA is consulting with a number of water companies, as well as Defra (Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the Environment Agency on the possible implications of the imminent hosepipe ban on leisure boating.
Seven water companies in the south and south east of England have announced that they will enforce a hosepipe ban from 5 April 2012. These are: Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East.
Caroline Price, RYA Planning & Environmental Advisor "Our key concern with the hosepipe ban is the possible impact it may have on dinghy sailors and powerboaters who regularly move their boats to different waters by trailer.
"The UK has been invaded by a number of non-native species, the killer shrimp being one, which can present a serious risk to native flora and fauna. Hosing down boats before they are moved to another location in order to remove any non-natives that may have 'climbed aboard' has been fundamental in minimising their spread across the country.
"If the hosepipe ban prevents the thorough hosing down of such boats and no alternative management is recommended there is a danger that Defra could look to place restrictions on the movement of boats to different waters in the UK in order to prevent the spread of these non-natives. This could impact on dinghy racing, and small powerboat cruising.
"The boating community has worked hard with Defra on their Check, Clean Dry campaign to get the message across that hosing down your boat before leaving a location is vital and this effort has been recognised. We understand that some exemptions are likely to be put in place and we are working hard to get clarity on this issue for all inland waters".
For larger boats that remain in the water and are not trailered from location to location the impact of the hosepipe ban will be less significant.
Filling up tanks for drinking water and washing the boat for health and safety reasons would, the RYA understands, be acceptable. However, cleaning your boat for purely aesthetic reasons will not be acceptable. Commercial activities are not generally affected by hosepipe bans.
"Obviously we all have to accept that we will need to be sensible with how we use water in our recreational boating over the coming months, just as we will have to in our homes.
"However, this does have to be balanced against other environmental pressures and should not be detrimental to the responsible behaviour the boating community has adopted in helping to minimise the spread of non-natives" concludes Caroline.
The RYA would advise all boaters to check the relevant water company's website for details on what activities are not permitted under the hosepipe ban or alternatively go to The Hosepipe Ban website.
The RYA will publish more definitive information as soon as it is available.
For more information on the Check, Clean, Dry campaign click here.