The weather has been hot and dry for many weeks. July was the driest month on record in the UK, and August continues that way. The garden is suffering. Last Friday, I spent much of my time pulling up dead plants and throwing them on the compost heap.
As the drought has gone on and on, I have been surprised that there hasn’t been a hosepipe ban. Rivers and reservoirs are very low, and yet people are still watering their gardens with hosepipes and sprinklers. The one exception is Southern Water, covering Hampshire and the IoW, where there is a hosepipe ban. An article in the Guardian made it obvious why there is no ban elsewhere. Most of us now have water meters. Thames Water, our local supplier, wants us to keep using lots of water, as the more we use the more money they make for their shareholders and for bonuses given to those that run the company.
The hotter it is, the more water we use, the more money the water companies make. If you have any doubts about their lack of altruism, you need only look at how often Thames Water has dumped raw sewage into our rivers: 5028 times in 2021, an astounding figure. Made all the worse these days with water levels so low. This dreadful pollution angers wild swimmers, anglers, rowers and all others who would otherwise enjoy our rivers. The poisoned waters kill fish, voles and other wildlife dependent on clean rivers.
Polio has recently been found in London sewage water, and young Londoners are now advised to get vaccinated. In spite of this, there seems to be no restriction on Thames Water dumping sewage into our rivers.
The garden has no mains water, relying on neighbours to fill our barrels, for which we are grateful. But it is inadequate for the needs of the garden this hot weather. Plants in pots are the first to die, followed by those that are shallow rooted. We have lost most of the shrubs we won in the competition, just a couple of months back. And so it has been decided that we should get mains water. The last time we priced this was in 2019. Thames Water quoted around £3000 to install a tap. It could well be £4000 now, with inflation. But we are where we are, and hopeful that our lease will be extended beyond 2025. We are going to crowdfund the project, and, cross fingers, raise enough cash this way. If we succeed, next year, with mains water, we can keep our plants alive through the summer.
The drought and heat is a warning of summers to come. This year may be a one in ten year event, or next summer will be similar, as climate change bites. Our two contenders for Prime Minister do not have climate change on their agenda. In fact, Truss says she will cut the green levy on fuel. Sunak will cut taxes as soon as he can, but I have not heard a single green pronouncement from him. Likely we will get lots of greenwash from whoever takes over at No 10, but nothing to mitigate climate change as our grasslands and forest burn.
Take back control was the Brexit mantra. So here’s your chance, Truss and Sunak: grasp the nettle, and persuade the world to take back control over our climate.
Don’t hold your breath.
The situation makes me think of the First World War, where the, so called, civilised nations of the world sleepwalked into disaster.