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Using water wisely

Remember 1976? Or at least heard about it. Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

The South East is the driest and most populated region in the country—becoming increasingly so with all the extra house building. It is also home to one of the planet’s rarest habitats—chalk streams.

Locally the upper River Ivel is amongst the most over-abstracted chalk stream in the country and, as a result, the river is increasingly dry for long periods. Because we are on chalk, our water is extracted from the chalk aquifer by means of boreholes.Historic evidence supports that the water table used to be 3 to 6m higher, which means our water supplier now has to ‘dig deeper’.

Unless we want a repeat of Summer 1976, when stand pipes in the road were the only means of obtaining water , we all need to be aware of how much water we are using and take steps to use less.

What we can do as individuals varies depending on our personal circumstances. But we can all do a bit, however small, from taking fewer, shorter, showers to turning the tap off when we brush our teeth to not overfilling the kettle for one cup of tea.

If you have a garden then water in the morning or evening and mulch to keep the soil damp; use grey water (washing up water or bath water) for watering flower beds and containers; use a watering can, not a sprinkler, where possible and never water your lawn unless newly planted. If hot spells are to become more of the norm we might want to design a few more rainwater butts into the garden.

But please remember to leave a shallow dish of water out for the birds, hedgehogs and insects to drink and wash. That will need replenishing every day in this hot weather.

For those with young families, paddling pools are great but they use a lot of water so cover them up so they can be re-used. When you do empty them use the water on the garden not the grass—that will cope. Water slides and other such play equipment can also use a lot of water. How can you minimise that? Water pistols are fun and use less water. If the children really need a bath every night can you save some of it to water the garden? Or have a shallower bath.

A cold wet towel is great for cooling off!

Water is a precious resource and we need to recognise that. It is essential for life so let’s not waste it.

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