I Hit the Headlines!

David Beeson, 19th August 2022

Southern England, and much of Western Europe are having a hotter and drier summer than average. Rainfall for the year is well down and, with river levels dropping, local hosepipe and sprinkler bans are in place.

Our water is pumped out of our underlying chalk bedrock and, when extraction exceeds input, the springs dry and river flow decreases or stops. Water is a limited vital resource and costs – it needs pumping, possibly cleaning and treating with chlorine before we receive it.

I sample the local chalk river, the River Anton (a tributary of the famous River Test), for the river flies and other fauna to assess pollution and biodiversity levels. This data eventually adds to the mass of similar results across the UK that inform the Environment Agency of water issues. This activity is an example of Citizen Science, as we are semi-trained volunteers.

The River Anton is now down to 1/3 of its usual depth and drying up higher up its course. With flow rates down, water temperature increasing and depth impacting on fish and water mammals, it is a worry.

However, some self-centred individuals ignore the hosepipe-use ban. I have witnessed one who was sprayer-watering grass 24/7, only moving to overnight watering after a complaint. Now the water is switched on when it was dark and off when they appear in the morning. Eight hours – 1000s of litres of scarce water – on one small patch of grass. In my view, dreadful waste and contrary to the existing ban.

Our local water supplier, Southern Water, has been slow to react to my complaint, so I have resorted to alerting the local press – hence the headline. (They must have been desperate for copy!) Finally, with my complaints also going to a national water regulator, Southern Water has been forced to react.

So, I urge everyone to respond to environmental issues and fight for ‘what is right’.

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