Hosepipe bans to be toughened up
Filling up a swimming pool and washing the patio are just two of the activities that could now be banned during periods of drought.
The changes to the 62-year-old law for England and Wales follow last year's drought, when 13 million people were affected by hosepipe bans.
Mr Woolas said: "We saw an extreme drought in the south east then, and outdated legislation meant gardeners couldn't water their plants with a hosepipe but their neighbours could power-wash their patios or fill swimming pools.
"That situation was clearly inconsistent and illogical.
"Our consultation has shown overwhelming support for a change in the law governing the use of hosepipes.
"I am very pleased that as a result, we have committed to bring in legislation which is bang up to date, reflecting the way we use water today and how that might be affected by drought in the future."
He added: "We have to face up to the fact that climate change could make drought more frequent in the future, and that we must be ready with common sense legislation which is fit for purpose."
The previous ban was limited only to the use of hosepipes for watering gardens and washing private cars.
It will be replaced by a discretionary use ban, which will allow water companies to decide what activities they want to prohibit.
This could include operating ornamental fountains, and filling swimming pools and hot tubs, although school pools and private pools for medical uses would be exempt.
Mr Woolas said: "The new powers will be less rigid and will allow water companies to take a more sensitive and flexible approach, applying some or all of the powers according to local circumstances."
The water industry will produce a Code of Practice informing people about the new powers, explaining the priorities for water use when in short supply, and how restrictions would typically be implemented.
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