Are we facing a water shortage? Let’s face it, 6 weeks of constant warm and dry weather in the UK in the summer is pretty much unheard of. Yet, we are currently experiencing a fantastic spell of sustained warm weather and I couldn’t be happier. But should I be?
I know a few farmers and Helen speaks to them all the time when they go to the chippy. They need rain. It’s really quite simple. One farmer we know cut his hay meadows two weeks early, mainly due to it being so dry and that’s a good thing for hay. But, he made far fewer bales from his fields that he has in previous years. Given that he’s a sheep and free-range pig farmer this means he may have to buy in hay for the winter. That means his costs go up, thus he will have to sell his produce at a higher price.
Arable farmers in our area are having to resort to water sprayers in their fields and in our four years in this area we’ve not seen this before. That’s more time and more cost. And their yield will still likely be lower. I’ve made my own observations from running in our glorious countryside. It seems the barley and wheat fields have stunted growth – but I’m no expert in such matters.
As much as you won’t catch me moaning about this heatwave, especially after last summers complete washout, I do sympathise with our farmers.
It goes without saying these days that social media is filled with people posting photos of their paddling pools, larger paddling pools, pool large enough for a toddler to swim, humongous pool for 20 adults! I saw recently that is was estimated in one weekend along the UK would use 4 billion litres of water in one weekend along filling these pools up. That’s insane. Especially when you consider how desperate water availability is becoming in some parts of the country.
I saw that there will now be a hosepipe ban in the north-west starting in August. For me, this has been long overdue. In times like this when water becomes a valuable resource, why can’t people work a little harder in their private gardens of when washing their car and use a watering can? Hosepipes waste so much water, and though Yorkshire Water has not yet imposed a ban I certainly won’t be using ours for the foreseeable future.
Of course in warmer weather people will shower more. So take shorter showers and don’t use your bath. A shorter shower doesn’t mean you’ll be any less clean, it’s just about being efficient.
I know people will bemoan the fact that water companies waste water by not fixing leaks but why can’t we all do our bit? And remember, if you’re on a water meter (like us) then using less water will also mean spending less.
To do our bit I’ve just ordered our free water saving kit from Yorkshire Water. There’s a shower fitment to reduce flow, a cistern capacity reducer, flow reducers for taps and a 4-minute show egg-timer. Check with your local water company to see if they are offering these kits.
The simple fact is that sustained heat and lack of rain means lower crop yields on our arable farms. Lower yields mean less availability and in turn, this drives up prices. Less availability in the UK means more imports of food, thus costing more. Here ends my economics lesson, but it’s clear food prices are likely to increase as a result of this heat.
It’s predicted that the issue will not be as bad as in the 1970s (not that I was even morn in the seventies). It’s strange to think but the harsh winter we suffered (how long ago does that feel now?!) and the heatwave combined have colluded to create a shortage of a staple of our diet – potatoes. There’s even talk of this leading to a crisp shortage! It’s Gary Lineker I feel sorry for!
But seriously, I am certain that our weekly food bill will increase as a result of us enjoying this sunshine.
Do Your Bit
I will continue to enjoy this warm weather, sure. But I am also doing my bit to save water. So come on, can you do your bit to help save water during this sustained dry period? I’m sure you can and I urge you to do it.