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Water

 

 MAY 2022
Water, water everywhere…….or not?


Anyone who regularly visits the Rec will be well aware of the problems with drainage, as significant areas of it become like a bog when it rains heavily. You get the impression that water is plentiful….perhaps too plentiful at times! But nothing could be further from the truth. Freshwater is a scarce and precious resource, even here in the UK where we still get regular rainfall.


I was reading recently that less than 3% of the Earth’s water supply is freshwater, and of that, only 0.3% is readily accessible, the rest being partially locked away in polar ice. And our insatiable demand for water is contributing to the climate crisis. As our weather becomes hotter and drier, and the population continues to grow, our demand for water is outstripping supply and rapidly becoming unsustainable.


But what has all this to do with the Rec? Well as volunteer gardeners committed to helping wildlife and gardening sustainably, we are faced with a dilemma. How do we use water responsibly? Having been created on a former brickworks we know that the sub-soil in the Rec, is clay. Clay holds on to water and because it has very low permeability, it becomes sticky and dense when wet. Conversely it shrinks as it dries out, the surface cracks and it bakes like concrete; not ideal for most plants……or gardeners trying to dig it! So although clay has a high mineral content it’s a challenging medium for gardeners. We spread bark each year to improve fertility, prevent surface water loss and improve the porosity of the ground. But in prolonged periods without rain, as we experienced in April, if we don’t water, we’re at risk of losing many of the plants we’ve put in. Any that have recently been planted are especially vulnerable, needing regular water to establish their roots.


Although we’ve always tried to be careful about watering, we recognize that we need to be more discriminating about where, when and how we water. With this in mind we’ve come up with a set of guidelines for the group, which will be made available on our website soon. We will do our very best to adhere to it and welcome any suggestions as to how it can be improved or what we might do differently.


It is also clear that each of us have a personal responsibility to use water wisely. We are so used on turning on the tap and having a constant supply that we don’t often consider the environmental consequences. Here in The UK (and mainly in the south), we have  85% of the world’s chalk streams; a habitat rich in biodiversity and something to be treasured. But for years water companies have been abstracting from these rivers, and streams as well as the aquifers that supply them, in order to meet customer demand. This has caused severe damage to their unique ecology and some have even dried up as a consequence. Another outcome of excessive use and discharge of water is that our out-dated drainage and sewage systems become overloaded and water companies have been diverting untreated water directly into our rivers and seas causing terrible pollution. Undoubtedly, the water companies bear a substantial responsibility for this and need to urgently get their house in order, but we also need to play our part as individuals. So please stop and think next time you go to clean the car or water the  garden; water isn’t an inexhaustible resource and needs to be treated with respect.


Let’s All Save Water
Dear H2O
We need you
To make our gardens grow.
To drink and wash,
Produce our food and make our rivers flow
We know that you’re
The stuff of life,
The reason we exist.
There is no doubt
If you ran out
You’d certainly be missed
You’ve been there
For us
At the Rec
In all your many guises.
Be it shower, hose
Or downpour
You’ve helped us
To win prizes
So we’ll take care
And only ever
Use you sparingly.
Then we’ll be sure there’s plenty more
For her and him and me.
For all the living things on earth
Wherever they may be
……………….and for that very vital
Uplifting cup of tea!!


A poem wot I wrote. ……I don’t think Simon Armitage needs to start worrying
anytime soon!!!!

 

By Denise Long

 

 

 

 

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