Water crisis temporarily dilutes other vital issues

A hose pipe ban is a bit of a shock to the system.

Friday, 6th July 2018, 4:50 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:14 pm
Sandra Chapman

There am I, with endless pots of plants and flowers needing daily water and I’ve told them all – because I do talk to my plants – that they are on rations from now on.

All spring I’ve nurtured my orange lilies in particular because I like a good show for the Twelfth, due next week, and they’ve responded magnificently. But soon it will be holiday time and I fear for them and the vegetables.

This time last year both were a mush through slug damage and constant rain which never really stopped all summer. This year they’ve needed constant watering and I’m working like a dervish to keep a supply going now the hose ban is in place. And it has caused me to think about how we all use water.

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Pacemaker Press 28/06/2018 Cooling down at the water fountain during the hot weather in Belfast on Thursday, that is thought to be the hottest day of the year, as the sunshine continues. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

I wouldn’t have called myself a water waster – I remember two hose pipe bans in the past though there may have been more but not in my area.

Yet this week I decided to place a large plastic bowl in the sink to catch any I was using for domestic purposes, such as washing vegetables and fruit and general cleaning.

I was actually shocked to find myself constantly emptying this bowl into a plastic bin which I have then used for watering plants and vegetables. A new hedge we planted may not survive if this continues.

All of this has brought home to me the value of water. It’s surprising how many people think that whenever it rains this adds to the supply of water on earth so we shouldn’t have to worry in the long term. Any water scientist will swiftly disabuse us of this notion.

My understanding is that whatever water came in the early creation of the earth is what we have still.

There is no ‘new’ water.

We don’t ‘see’ it as a lot of the earth’s water is underground, which is why some lucky farmers who have such a supply can bore holes to reach it. Ancient cities Rome and Greece built sophisticated systems for getting water from the bowels of earth to populated areas.

We think we are sophisticated with water production. We’ve a lot to learn. The techniques of finding and getting water to people today were learned all those generations ago. I know the island of Crete quite well. I’ve been there for weeks in the searing heat and still the water flowed. Children could enjoy their paddling pools in their gardens. But water wasn’t wasted. Even the dogs could drink the water used for washing vegetables. It may come to that for my pampered pooch.

The water crisis, of course, has distracted us somewhat from the Brexit negotiations and the migrant crisis which is painful to watch. The picture of three rescue workers each with a dead infant in his arms, their parents goodness where and most likely drowned, is sickening. One hundred of them drowned hoping, possibly, that taking to water might save them. On this occasion the sea proved as big an enemy as the one they were fleeing from.

As for the Brexit negotiations, these melting hot days are doing nothing for the tempers of the politicians involved. How they must wish for the end of July and their holidays to begin. In this part of the United Kingdom many of us cannot understand why Theresa May let herself be so side-tracked by the Irish border issue allowing the Europeans and Sinn Fein make such a big issue of it. Writing in the Daily Telegraph this week commentator Simon Heffer reminds people who fear a no-deal outcome could bring economic ruin, that private enterprise operates best without undue control from governments or centralised bureaucracies ‘…and here is our chance to prove it – in accordance with World Trade Organisation rules. As for the Irish border, that would be reimposed through no wish of ours but by command of Brussels: and our Irish cousins should therefore take that up with Mr Barnier, not with us’.

But back to this glorious weather which could last a while. Could it also mean a glorious Twelfth in more ways than one?