“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink”! With so much water about as we were battered with more torrential rain at the weekend, it is hard to believe that the South East of England has less water available per person than in many Mediterranean countries.
The Environment Agency acknowledges that water resources in the UK are under increasing pressure due to the growing population, and warns that the South East has a more serious water scarcity than anywhere else in England or Wales.
The Agency plans to reduce demand and increase supply, by encouraging us to reduce our water consumption to 110 litres per person per day, and increase rainwater harvesting.
The South East is experiencing low rain fall and high demand; a mismatch which will only become more problematic as the population escalates with major housing developments springing up across the region.
This winter we have faced the highest rainfall for decades. It started falling in mid-September, since when it has not stopped. Each time the heavens open we watch millions of cubic gallons of water flow down ditches, into rivers and out to sea.
And yet there appears to be a deafening silence and lack of urgency from the Environment Agency and water companies.
Not once during this exceptional winter have we heard any suggestion that they have plans in place to harvest this vital commodity. We do of course hear a great deal about the floods, which are devastating and in many cases life changing for those affected.
Credit should be given to the plans for small scale on farm trials starting this year, apparently part funded by the EU. Project PROWATER will work within three catchment areas in Kent and East Sussex, including Friston Forest which sits on an aquifer supplying water to Eastbourne. But where is the sense of urgency?
When the summer eventually arrives and the next drought, no doubt we will all look back and wish contingency plans had been put in place sooner to capture this valuable resource.
When the possibility of a hose pipe ban occurs, plans to create a new reservoir somewhere in Sussex, are dusted off and discussions recommence. However as soon as the rain resumes these plans soon return to the proverbial shelf and forgotten again to gather dust, until the next time.
All new build houses were to be required to incorporate rainwater harvesting and storage tanks, but the Code for Sustainable Homes and RWH in particular, was scrapped by the Government in 2015.
Before the introduction of mains water, all homes and farms relied on rainwater harvesting with ponds, lakes, wells and underground storage tanks. These along with rivers and streams being the only source of water for drinking and other uses. We can learn a great deal from our ancestors, and we should value this essential commodity, as well as using it more sparingly. Of course the alternative is to stop building houses!
At last common sense and reality appears to have caught up with the idea that we could soon be ferried around safely and efficiently by autonomous vehicles. As Andrew English in his enlightening article in the Daily Telegraph makes abundantly clear, far from self-driving cars taking over, saving the planet, making us safer and putting professional drivers out of business, the opposite is more likely.
The Oxford-based autonomy expert StreetDrone in a recent report, suggests that even the autonomous technology community admits “that maybe ambition might have outstripped capability”, and a new found realism is emerging.
I rather suspect that those advocating the demise of diesel powered vehicles will soon come to the same conclusions. The idea that every moving vehicle across the planet will be powered by electricity, is totally absurd.
At last a Prime Minister who stands by election promises, and puts country before personal popularity.
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