CIRCUS clowns have been warned to stop throwing water at each other or risk violating a drought order.
The entertainers, who work for Zippo's Circus, typically get through 20 buckets of water during their shows.
Martin Burton, who was in charge of the circus's visit to Wallington, Surrey, was warned that the routines would violate the drought order issued by the local water company.
"The water board has had a complete sense of humour failure," he said. "I called them up to check the act was OK and they said it broke the rules and threatened me with hefty fines and cutting off our access to water. It is ridiculous and they need to chill out."
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has granted a drought order to allow Sutton and East Surrey Water to restrict the "non-essential use" of water in its area of supply. It means the clowns will not be able to use water pistols or squirt water from plastic flowers.
Stuart Hislop, a spokesman for the company, said: "No one else is allowed to fill buckets from a hose in their back garden and throw them over each other, so why should the clowns? It is a total waste of water.
"Twenty buckets of water per show can soon add up and we hope Mr Burton will follow the sensible advice he has been given.
"It is not setting a very good example to all these children going to the circus. We are talking about a situation here where we could run out of water."
Deliberate breach of the order is punishable by a fine of up to £5000 ($12,265).
Mr Burton said: "I think my clowns are secretly smirking because it means they get to stay dry but I am annoyed."