Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Save water... bath with a friend?

The recent spell of uncharacteristically warm Spring weather came to an abrupt end yesterday, with a chilly night giving way to stormy conditions: rain, sleet... and snow!  The snow admittedly hasn't amounted to much here, but it's the first wet day we've seen for about a fortnight I think - prompting slightly panicky pronouncements of drought conditions and imminent hosepipe bans, reminiscent of the famous drought of 1976.  Looking out now at the rain lashing against the window-pane and the phone wires bouncing in the wind, unending sunshine with temperatures in the 90s for days on end seems an attractive proposition.  It's tempting to conclude that we've learnt nothing about conserving water in the last 35 years, but then again there's arguably been no desparate need to.

I remember the house we lived in when I was a teenager: a pre-war detached house in Kenilworth which boasted an iron rainwater tank just above the kitchen, into which all the downpipes from the roof guttering emptied.  I'm not sure which of the previous owners had the idea to build it: it always struck me as being a bit bizarre, and none of the neighbours had one as far as I know.  It had a tap just by the back door, and during the summer we used it to water the garden, which was a large one and took an hour or two even using a hosepipe.  I don't think I ever found out how much it held, but in the ten years or so I lived there, I only recollect it actually running dry once.  When my parents later on had an extension built on the back of the house, they had the tank removed - which with the benefit of hindsight might perhaps have turned out to have been a mistake.

Oddly enough, the little pond in the local woods, which last year dried up to caked mud for most of the summer, this year seems to be starting to fill with water again - presumably from the rain, as there isn't a stream or anything there as far as I know.  Evidently there is water around, just not where it's needed most.  Which shouldn't really be that much of a problem: after all, the Romans were building aqueducts two thousand years ago! 


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