While streams and rivers are drying up in South East England, we are all in a state of Drought Denial. The increasing population is demanding ever more water and over the last few decades more and more water is taken from rivers and underground aquifers. Now the water table has dropped so much that streams that once flowed with sparkling clear water are now bone dry for most of the year. This affects the whole eco system of the river, from plants to invertebrates and the fish and birds that feed on them. And even where there is water, the flow is so slow that there is a build up of algae which reduces the oxygen in the water, leading to stagnation. While there is Drought Denial and the situation is not recognised as a crisis by the authorities, the Water Companies can legally continue to abstract more water and not address the problem.
Recently we have had a lot of rain and you would think it was ‘problem solved’ but the trouble is that the ground is so dry and hard that initially most of the water runs off, eventually making it to the sea. And when it does permeate down to the underground aquifers, they are in such a stressed state that it will take years, if not decades, of wet summers and winters to recover. The solution is to first of all recognise the problems and then set about using our resources more wisely, reducing consumption, cutting down on wastage, fixing leaks in the pipe network and building new reservoirs. While we have increased our consumption of water year on year, we haven’t built any new reservoirs since the 1980’s. It will take new thinking and more investment at a government level and for once, conservation and river protection will have to take precedence over profits for the benefit of the utility shareholders.
See the BBC One Show featuring Drought Denial on this clip here: https://vimeo.com/366464205
For years, Water Powered Technologies have promoted pumping and storing surface water when it it plentiful to use during drought. This doesn’t affect the underground aquifers and is just one measure that water users can use to conserve and better use our water resources. For more information: www.waterpoweredtechnologies.com .