Stupidity they say,

Is when you keep repeating the same mistakes and expect a different answer.

I was in the supermarket today buying bread and milk. I always peruse the newspaper stand and read over the headlines.

In the days before the internet and sending e-mails and texting home when on holiday, we sent postcards. some would be of local scenes, (to your mum and dad) but often saucy one to your mates at work.

humorous postcards, we were less thin-skinned and liberal then.

When is Scotland there would be all the terrible stereotypes about Scotsmen – kilts – sheep – and of course the atrocious weather, lashing rain, sou’wester clad tourists braving the elements,

“Weather here!”

Today I read a headline,

‘Scotland should be trying to preserve water’ whit.

Once upon a time water buts by cottages and on allotments were common place. Well as the population of England expands, and long dry summers become more of a reality in the UK due to global warming, England, will once more need Scotland, or at least Scotland’s water. It is claimed that in the South East of England there is less water available per person than in many Mediterranean countries.

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Thanks to Alex Salmond, (when First Minister of Scotland) who saw the folly of Scotland’s water being sold off, saying at the time,

“It would be like selling off your oil wells just when the motor cars were first invented.”

which of course is exactly what England did under Maggie Thatcher’s government.

Rainwater harvesting, (the collecting of rainwater rather than allowing it to runoff), comes in many guises. From roofs and roof-like surfaces, such as solar PV panels, we see fields of them now in many parts of the country. This water will then be redirected into tanks, cisterns, deep pits. Water can also be stored in an underground natural reservoir, simply the water seeps into the ground as groundwater. However as more and more gardens are covered over with slab, concrete, or other hard surfaces it becomes run-off into road drains and not collected for recycling. This can cause problems during heavy rain, (much more common, under global warming) drains back up small burns turn into fast-flowing rivers, and can cause landslides, that destroy everything in their path. still we keep repeating the same mistakes.

Global warming does not only cause heavy rain problems, as temperatures rise people suffer. A combination of urban ‘green’ rooftops with rainwater catchments are known to reduce building temperatures by more than 1.3 Celsius.

Rainwater harvesting in conjunction with urban agriculture would give sustainable food and water security – the technology is still in its infancy, but it is a well-tried and test method in countries like Holland and the Fends of England where it has been progressed over centuries.

Kenya is already successful in harvesting rainwater for toilets, (something we really need to get into in the UK, litres of water flushed down the loo after having a pee, and with a young family in the home – well you probably all been there.)

in Caribbean countries capture and storage of rainwater run-off is well established, reducing the risk of losing some or all of the year’s harvest. It also helps reduce soil erosion during high rainfall.

One of the biggest commercial rainwater harvesting systems is in Germany. The water collected from the 26,800 squee meters of roofs over the new airport building at Frankfurt Airport, is stored in tanks in the basement, with approximately 1 million cubic meters of water per year. The water is used for toilet flushing, cleaning, air conditioning system, and oh yes, watering the plants. However at a cost of 1.5 million dm ($63,000 US dollars) in 1993, such scenes are unlikely to be copied in England unless they can be shown to be commercially profitable to the private companies.

Rainwater harvesting was adopted at The Velodrome – The London Olympic Park – in order to increase the sustainability of the facility. A 73 per cent decrease in potable water demand by the park was estimated. Despite this, it was deemed that rainwater harvesting was a less efficient use of financial resources to increase sustainability than the park’s blackwater recycling program.

When it is a commercial enterprise the bottom line will always trump the environmental impact.

UK homeowners using some form of rainwater harvesting system can reduce their mains water usage by 50 per cent or more. And dependent on your water company, (where you live in England) the delivery of wastewater and sewerage processing cost about £2 per cubic meter. Reducing mains water metered volumes of water also reduce sewerage disposal costs in the same proportions, (water companies assumes that all water is taken into the house will end up as sewerage, and bill accordingly.)

There was a time in Scotland when rainwater harvesting tanks had to be fitted to all new builds, I can not remember when this was changed (possibly by lobbing by housebuilders) or what they estimated the extra cost to be on a new home. However, it is schemes such as this that will only turn around the water shortage in England. But as I have said before and make no bones about saying it again, if the countries water boards are in the hands of private investment companies, it will never happen.

We all depend on utility companies for our everyday existence, be that water, electricity, waste disposal…. They must be held in government hands so that our environment is not placed at the mercy and dependence of the profitability at the bottom line. 

Stay safe    

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