Council to limit water use but prioritise new trees and allotments

The hose pipe ban coming into force today (Friday 12 August) by South East Water will have implications for the district’s parks, gardens and council-owned allotments, the city council has warned.

As the ban covers council operations as well as domestic properties, officers have been looking at options for watering, with the aim of taking a responsible approach of limiting water use and showing community leadership.

The priority will be to keep newly-planted trees watered. Following checks, 11 trees have been identified as needing ongoing watering, which will be carried out twice a week using a can. Six of these are in Canterbury cemetery, with two in Oxford Road, two in Cotton Mill Road and one in Rheims Way.

At council-owned allotments, which are mostly run by allotment associations, there are two simple options – either turn off the water pipes completely to prevent use of hose pipes, or allow watering cans to be used.

The council has decided to allow the use of watering cans. This will allow produce to continue to be grown, which will help with the current cost of living pressures and prevent the loss of what is currently being grown.

But allotment holders are being urged to be responsible with their water use. Continued use of hose pipes that is against the ban could result in the water being switched off.

In parks and gardens, the council currently waters sites such as the Westgate Gardens, the seafront gardens in Herne Bay and cemeteries using a mixture of methods, including the mains supply, hose pipes, bowsers and watering cans.

The decision at these locations is to cease watering. This will result in some bedding plants dying, but most of these are due to be stripped out next month in preparation for the autumn bedding – although the council will be keeping the planting of the new bedding under review given they may not be able to be watered.

If the appearance of the bedding areas declines before the scheduled removal of the plants, they will be taken out a little earlier than planned.

Cabinet member for open spaces, Cllr Ashley Clark, said: “We’ve had to take some difficult decisions here and understand that some people will be upset at seeing some of the parks and gardens looking less than their best.

“But we are where we are. A hose pipe ban is with us and, just like everybody else, we have to be responsible and keep our water use as low as possible.

“Having planted new trees over recent months, we are determined that they will survive because the first year is absolutely critical, so the approach to keep these going until such time as Mother Nature helps us out is the correct one.

“We applaud the actions of the many voluntary groups we work in partnership with and their sterling efforts to plant trees and keep them watered.

“At the allotments, we felt the benefits these sites bring, not just in terms of fresh produce but also the known boost to people’s health and wellbeing, meant that we have to keep the water running, albeit in a different way.

“We hope the allotment holders will work with us and do the right thing so that this can be maintained, and remind them that watering in the morning and early evening is likely to be more effective in cutting down on evaporation.

“As part of our future planning for our parks and gardens, we are already looking at planting that requires less water in the future, in line with our approach to look after our open spaces in a more sustainable and biodiverse way.”

Published: 12 August 2022

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