The Thames Water hosepipe ban started yesterday. Like a good citizen I went out into the garden and tidied away the hoses and the sprinkler I've been using on the vegetables and pots lest they lead into temptation. The water butts are full, the watering cans are out, and I am ready.
It was inevitable therefore that last night the heavens opened. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled, and as I typed this early this morning it continues to bucket down (29mm recorded by 1pm) What passes for my lawn already looks greener. This is but a temporary respite, we need much, much more to replenish stocks of water in the south-east. Not that anyone really needs a hosepipe for their garden much beyond September, but I expect that the ban will last for much longer. I've read a few interesting stats about water recently. They are all from the internet, so caveat emptor and so on, but:
- Since the water industry was privatised by Mrs Thatcher over 30 years ago not a single new reservoir has been built in England. Some, like Abberton, have been enlarged, but nothing new has been constructed.
- The water companies have paid around £60bn in dividends to shareholders since then.
- At the current rate of investment and repair each water pipe needs to last for 2000 years. The lifespan of the newest PVC pipes is 100 years. Somebody else's problem I guess.
- I could run a hose for 73 years and use less water than Thames Water loses in a single day to leaks.
No doubt this is not the full story, but it seems a bit rich (which incidentally is what water companies and their CEOs are) to impose restrictions when these companies have singularly failed to plan for the future and instead just pocketed huge sums of money. Mind you did anyone expect any different? Of course not. What can I do about it? Nothing. The modicum of good news is that whilst reading up about hosepipe bans I discovered that dripper hoses on a timer are exempt. I use a couple of these to efficiently water a bed of ferns and a bed of semi-tropical plants - palms, bamboos and agapanthus - so that is one less thing to worry about. But I have huge numbers of plants in pots, two greenhouses, and a vegetable patch that I am now going to have to water by hand whilst continuing to pay Thames Water a pile of cash. Excellent.
Today's saturation should mean I get a few days off, but various plants in the greenhouses will still need doing and somehow I am going to have to find more time to get round them all. In normal weather it is fine. When it is in the high 20s my greenhouse gets to well over 40 degrees and whilst my plants in pots love this it means they dry out very quickly indeed. Many are drought-tolerant, but it is easier on them if they have water. On the plus side the heavy rain has highlighted a few leaks in the conservatory, so there is less watering to do in there....