After an extremely wet winter in the UK it seems strange to be writing about water shortages but the current heat wave has reminded me that the spectre of a hosepipe ban is always just around the corner in the UK. Despite having a reputation for raining a lot, the UK is now constantly walking a tightrope when it comes to water supply and at some point we are likely to fall off it.
Population and Climate
The pace of population growth and climate change does not appear to be matched by adequate measures to improve water supply with the result that shortages are becoming common. Nobody wants to return to situations like the summer of 1976 when we had water rationing and standpipes in the street but that is where will end up if nothing is done. The Office of National Statistics is warning that the population is set to increase by 10 million over the next 17 years and scientists are suggesting that climate change will bring even more problems so what do we do?
Naturally the government and water companies are working on ways to save and store more water but there is only so much that can be done. The fact is that we all need to make a contribution to saving water by acting responsibly in our own homes. The chances are that the prospect of shortages will lead to more properties being metered by the water companies which will mean that saving water will also save you money. Research has shown that we use far more water domestically per head in the UK than in many other countries and so there is certainly room for improvement.
It is surprising how much water is wasted without a second thought. Just turning off the tap whilst you clean your teeth would save several litres everyday as would taking showers rather than using the bath. Dishwater and bathwater can be recycled by watering the garden with it and, in the case of the latter, washing the car. The water that runs away when you turn on a tap and wait for the water to run hot or cold can be collected and used later too.
There is nothing that uses water faster than a hosepipe but many people value their gardens and some are growing their own food which is a practice which should be encouraged. Gardens need watering but a huge amount of our valuable supply is used in this way. A cheap and easy way to alleviate the problem is to install water butts at the foot of your downpipes to collect rainwater at home. This will save you money if you are metered and reduce the pressure on the water supply. A vast amount of water falls onto domestic properties only to run off unused into the drains. Using your rainwater systems to harvest water will ensure that far more is collected than can be managed by the water companies alone and you can prevent flooding during periods of heavy rain in this way by diverting water away from the drains.
We all need to make a contribution to the conservation of our water supply and most of things we can do require little effort or investment. We just need to think!
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Sally Stacey is a keen writer with a garden that needs watering and water bills that need to be reduced!