Water Sources

The most common source of water for irrigation is the potable mains system but there are other alternatives which should be investigated before a decision is made.

Hose feedUnder current legislation, any private householder is entitled to abstract up to 20 M3, (or 4,400 gallons,) daily, from either groundwater or aquifer resources on their property. If used on the garden, this represents sufficient capacity to meet the irrigation demand of a plot of several acres. This level of abstraction requires no requirement for any permit from the NRA and the use of the water is not governed by any restrictions placed on normal domestic supplies. There is also no charge made for the water used. Many older properties have existing wells which are sometimes covered up or filled in. Where no well exists, it can be economic to drill a well specifically for an automatic watering system, providing geological data is encouraging. An automatic watering system for a reasonably large garden could accept the cost of a well up to 40 M. or so deep.

Commercial users, and domestic abstractions over the above daily allowance, have to be licensed through the NRA. In most parts of the country it is unlikely that a licence would be golf courseissued for summer abstraction from a stream or river in order that a landscape can be watered.

Conversely, in most areas a licence would probably be issued for the use of groundwater from a well or borehole. The local office of the Environment Agency can advise on the likelihood of a licence application being view favourably and the BGS will undertake a desktop survey of resources for a modest fee. A small charge is levied by the EA for the water, based upon the licensed quantity, not that actually used.

Mains water is charged at a higher rate but, even on a watered area of half an acre, (so a total plot size of about an acre,) the annual charge is likely to be no more than £360.00 at current rates so costs are not unreasonable. It is usually necessary for the mains supply to be metered if a watering system is in use so 5 anyone proposing to install such a system should contact their water company for advice.

Night WateringOfficially, garden watering systems are subject to hose-pipe bans as any water company will confirm. However, the companies appreciate the fact that night time use of the automatic watering actually reduces day-time loading on their pipework systems and allows them to sell water at a time when nobody else wants it. It is perhaps for this reason that ISC has yet to hear of one of its clients being shut down during a ban, despite the fact that all of the systems are known to their local water companies.


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