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I saw hard evidence of our water crisis
10:40am Sunday 15th April 2012 in Colin Baker
WHEN I was 16 years old and living in the North, I cycled with friends to Ladybower Reservoir near Sheffield because the village of Derwent which had been flooded two decades earlier when the reservoir was built, had emerged from the depths when the waters receded during that long, hot summer.
It was, I recall, an eerie and sobering sight. Despite the considerable difference in scale, our present water shortage was underlined when I visited a charity horse riding event at West Wycombe Park on the Bank Holiday.
Last year, we watched the horses plunge through the run-off from the swan-shaped lake that is fed by the River Wye. This year, we watched them walk through the muddy residue adjacent to a non-existent lake. It is the first hard evidence I have seen of the reality of the water shortage that has resulted in a hosepipe ban being implemented in April – at the beginning of what we would otherwise hope would be the driest season of the year.
With a population that is steadily growing in a country that is not by any means in a part of the world where water ought to be a problem, we should perhaps be more proactively considering the impact of a growing population and a predicted global water shortage.
Certainly, we need to address the fact that the majority of the population is in the south of the country and the majority of water is in the north. I would rather see the vast sums of money that are designated for the financial sinkhole that is HS2 being spent on assuring our future water (and food) supply than getting businessmen to Birmingham a bit quicker.
Water is needed by everyone.
Whether we need new reservoirs, desalination plants or water extraction from our rivers at their point of entry to the sea, we cannot provide for the future just by not cleaning our teeth with the tap running, filling our dishwashers before turning them on or turning off our sprinklers.
These are mildly helpful short-term strategies, but our need for water for our children cannot be met by them alone. All the alternative methods of water generation, storage and conveyance have very carbon hungry implications, I know, but some joined up thinking is required now to ensure that we avoid a potentially arid future. Our small island should never have reached this point.