As I write this it has just been announced that about 50% of the country is now officially experiencing drought conditions, the worst since 1976. Farmers and market gardeners in the south are facing extremely difficult times, having to re-think how they manage their businesses and cope with very limited water resources. Wildlife, especially fish, amphibians and waterfowl, are in dire trouble. In Cumbria we take water very much for granted, and frequently seem to have too much, but the situation may change if more of ‘our’ water is needed in the south and/or our rainfall also diminishes. Forecasts predict that with global warming the drought line will move north, but we have time to prepare. We pay for our water and if you’re on a meter you can save money by reducing your consumption. There are numerous ways that we can reduce our water usage: the United Utilities website ( has a useful list of reminders, including -

In the home: take shorter showers and smaller baths; share a flush; put a water-saving device in your cistern especially if it is a large old one; only run the washing machine and dishwasher with full loads; fix dripping taps; check for leaks etc; keep a jug of water in the fridge to save running the tap to get a cool glassfull. United Utilities currently offer a free Water Saving Kit to their customers – check it out.

In the garden: install a rain butt (or 2 or 3) for watering the plants; if feasible use ‘grey water’ (from the kitchen and bath/shower) for the garden.

New appliances: such as dishwasher & washing machine, choose ones which are water (and energy) efficient.

Water meter: if you live alone or with a small family or in a house with a high rateable value, it is probably well worth installing a (free) water meter. United Utilities can advise.

Finally, a sobering thought. The average person in the UK uses around 140 litres of water every day (50 litres of which goes to flushing the toilet). In the developing world the average person uses 10 litres per day. About one in eight people worldwide do not have access to clean, safe water as a consequence of which around 4,000 children die every day from water-related diseases. Water is such a vital essential resource: we need to value it more and remind ourselves how lucky we are to be able to turn on a tap and enjoy water of the highest quality. Let’s not waste it. Who needs bottled water anyway?

May 2012