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UK Garden Hose Ban Announced After Drought

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LONDON -- Water authorities say about 20 million British customers will be banned from using garden hoses to water plants or wash cars amid worries over a drought, even as parts of the country shiver amid snowfalls and showers.

Seven water companies said Thursday they would enforce a ban after one of the driest two-year periods on record.

It means Britons caught using a hosepipe face a 1,000 pound ($1,590) fine. Public parks and businesses face the same restrictions.

The firms claim the measures are needed to preserve water supplies after two dry winters have prevented rivers and reservoirs from adequately refilling.

Critics point to the vast amount of water lost by the companies through leaks. Industry regulator Ofwat said 3.3 billion liters a day was lost last year.

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