‘They’ are giving out rain this year

raindropsIt is a peculiar feature of the local dialect around here that we are ‘given’ our weather.  For example, you might overhear a parent at the school gates say something like, ‘they’re giving out rain later,’ or, ‘they’ve give sun for the weekend.’  But mostly we are given rain.  Our nearest village still stages an annual well-dressing ceremony.  In terms of ensuring a plentiful supply of water, the event is always a success.  This is the wettest place I have ever lived in and once upon a time I lived in Manchester.  After the last two summers I have been fighting back the urge to write a letter of complaint, I can’t help feeling the excessive rain fall is the result of a bureaucratic mix-up.  But who do I write to? I don’t know who ‘they’ are.

Despite being surrounded by water and the certain knowledge that once our brambly slope emerges as a garden we won’t be needing a water feature, we do still have a water butt.  Our water supply is anything but reliable: it may silt up at the source and make a mess of every pipe and receptacle that it reaches, the pump might start drawing air so that the taps have violent coughing and spluttering fits or sometimes the pump (for its own arcane reasons)  just decides to stop working altogether.  And when it gets cold the whole system just freezes up.  This is the time to start filling the toilet cisterns with canal water, to cook with bottled water and to wash your hair in water from the butt.  If you can get past the inconvenience of it all, this does leave your hair feeling wonderfully soft. 

Given the unreliability of our current water source and the reliability of the current wet weather we would like to look into a more complex water harvesting system.  This would require yet another pump however, and I have no faith it is going to be any less temperamental than the current one. It would also represent another drain on our precious electricity. We have even considered our own bore hole.  Whatever we do, it would no doubt, involve considerable expense.  In the meantime we will probably just fill a huge tank and then wonder what to do with it once it’s turned stagnant.

Click on image for more info.

Click on image for more info.

Whether you think we need to save water or not, I do think sustainable living requires a frame of mind that never takes any resource for granted.  In any case, we can all be prepared for the day when ‘they’ give out some prolonged sunshine and not be caught out if as a result of a bureaucratic mix-up you find your water being metred.  Here’s the tips:

  • fit a water displacement device into your toilet cistern or if you can bear it, live by the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’ mantra!
  • if replacing old toilets make sure the new one is flush efficient.
  • shower not bath.
  • fix dripping taps and lag outside pipes to prevent bursts and leaks.
  • taps off when brushing teeth, this saves 5 litres of water per minute.
  • use a watering can instead of a hose.
  • let lawns grow longer in summer, it retains moisture, don’t worry if it looks brown, grass will regrow as soon as favourable conditions return,  (this applies to many plants.) 
  • don’t be tempted to use a sprinkler.
  • water plants early in the morning or late at night to prevent loss through evaporation.
  • exercise a little benign neglect,  don’t water too often, shrubs and established plants will put down deeper roots and be stronger plants if you leave them to fend for themselves.
  • use ‘grey’ water (e.g washing up water) for non-edible plants.
  • get a water butt now – you never know when you will need it to wash your hair!

See also Rainwater Tank for larger tanks for those who are serious about rainwater harvesting.

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