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Drought and the River Chess

Mar 19, 2012

Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

The dry channel in Waterside, CheshamWater companies in the South and East of England are introducing hosepipe bans as a first measure to conserve water during the current drought. This restriction comes into force on the 5th April 2012. We have experienced prolonged periods of dry weather over the past two winters, so the recharge of aquifers by rainfall has not occurred. Veolia Water Central are responsible for supplying water for the people of Chesham and Rickmansworth, of which up to 70% comes originally from boreholes in the chalk aquifers lying below the Chiltern Hills. Rivers fed by springs have been badly affected; as water is extracted the water table gets lower and lower, leading to the River Chess in Chesham being dry since June last year.

Veolia Water Central has introduced restrictions to ensure they can meet essential demand for water. A hosepipe can use 1000 litres of water in one hour, which is equivalent to seven times our daily water consumption per person. Restricting its use is the most effective way to save large volumes of water and, when a hospipe ban was last introduced, we saw a 10% reduction in demand. Added to that is the need to maintain flows in chalk streams, regarded as a major area of concern by Lord Chris Smith of the Environment Agency and by many other conservation bodies.

Veolia Water Central has provided more information on the drought restrictions and tips for saving water on their web site:

We understand that these restrictions will create some hardship, but they are essential and cannot be avoided. It is our view that available data show that these restrictions should have been introduced months ago. We all need to use our water more efficiently to assist with the current shortage.

We believe strongly that, in the long term, alternative supplies of water are needed for the South East. As our population continues to grow, and weather patterns are predicted to result in increasing numbers of dry periods, the current supply system is unsustainable.