When the poet Coleridge wrote that line he may have been onto something. After the winter we have just experienced, I have to confess I wasn’t expecting to see July open with a hosepipe ban!

And after a summer that has seen a rainless Wimbledon, uninterrupted cricket matches and thousands of sunbathers on the beaches of southern England, I was even less expecting the first hosepipe ban in 14 years to be declared in the very wettest part of England. But the area is now pursuing the implementation of its first drought order for over a decade.

All in all, this is a bit of wake-up call for the water industry across the whole country. Up until this point, particularly in the northern parts of the UK, water conservation seemed to be a luxury people have thought they could do without: after all, Britain’s famous for its rain.

But the Met Office reports that northwest England can only expect around 55% of its normal rainfall in the first six months of this year. It further predicts that it would take an extra 100mm of rainfall in the northwest to saturate the ground deeply enough to make it to the reservoirs.

For all sorts of reasons reduction of carbon emissions and reduction in customers’ bills have not translated in people’s minds into conservation of water. I hope this new dose of reality in a warming world will persuade water utilities to re-think their plans.

Otherwise, unless we want to wake up, like the poet, “a sadder and a wiser man,” we may need to be sending for someone who can do a good old-fashioned rain dance! 

(Image by Chris 73, Wikimedia Commons)