Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798)
I’m puzzled by this water drought thing. Every time I watch the news, all I see are warnings about how we’re all going to run out of water this summer. Run out? Exactly how? We’re an island. There’s water all around us. And if you don’t believe me, do a quick recce of the British coastline. One of the first things that you’ll notice when you reach Brighton / Broadstairs / Lowestoft / Southampton (take your pick), is that where the land finishes, inevitably there is water. It’s called The Sea and there’s an awful lot of it about. As Fawlty Towers once put it: “It’s in between the land and the sky”. There you have it. Unmistakeable. Water. Lots of it. If you’re still not convinced, go and stand in it. And if you find yourself sopping wet, then clearly it’s there.
Either that or you’ve had an accident.
Still we are told that this is going to the driest year since 1976. But this is England. It rains all summer. The rain clouds may be quite well-behaved right now, but they’re biding their time. They’re waiting for the Test Matches and Wimbledon.
The water companies keep telling us to stop using water. Stop watering our gardens, stop taking baths, stop frivolously drinking the darn stuff, put a brick in your cistern (now, if that doesn’t sound like a very painful euphemism, I don’t know what does) ...
But there’s as much water in the world now as there was fifty or a hundred years ago. In fact, there’s more. The ice-caps are melting. This means more fresh water, and less land for penguins and polar bears to live on - which is a terrible shame.
There’s a thing called the Hydrological Cycle. This, I might add, is not a bicycle that is powered by water. It goes something like this: There’s water in the seas. This evaporates into the atmosphere over time and ends up in the clouds. It then comes down as rain. Some of this gets absorbed into the ground. The rest finds its way into seas, reservoirs, lakes, but mostly Aberystwyth. And then you’re back to what’s known as evaporation and evapotranspiration, both of which mean roughly the same thing, but are spelt slightly differently.
So, it’s there. It’s been there all the time. And as usual, it keeps going through the same motions.
Thames Water, the government, whoever ... they’ve got it wrong. There’s a simple solution to the problem: process sea-water. Take the salt and nasty bits out, and use that. That will keep the sea levels down - instead of flooding East Anglia, it’ll be in our tummies. It’s just laziness that stops them doing this.
Britain doesn’t know what a real drought is, and before we all get terribly panicky, and before water becomes the “Black Gold” of the twenty-first century, let’s try and keep things in perspective. Ethiopia knows what a drought is. They’re the ones to ask; not East Anglia and the precious South East.
If the water companies really wanted to solve the matter, they could do so quite easily. All they have to do is tap into that veritable fountain of riches hidden in the pipes below North End Road in Golders Green. As anyone who has ever lived on that road will know, every three months - guaranteed - the pipes burst, and water streams down the road for two and a half days before a certain water company can be bothered to do anything about it.
It’s actually a ruse cooked up by manufacturers of bottled water. They have a deal with the local councils, I'm sure. They pay them a percentage of the profits from the boosted sales over a 48 hour period. There’s no other explanation for it. It couldn’t deliberately be that crap otherwise, could it?
How can water companies talk about wasting water when they so blatantly fail to do anything to maintain their water pipes?All that is required is a little bit of fixing. Just get out the water-proof puncture repair kit. That’s all we ask for. And when they've done that, then they can tell us what to do with our water.