The Drought

Looking out of the window, I notice that the rain has stopped, for what feels like the first time in weeks.  With no printer ink and an excess of printing to be done, I decide to take advantage of this temporary respite in the weather and head off hurriedly in the direction of the stationery retailer Rymans.

Barely two minutes later I am ordering black Kodak ESP C110 ink, my breathing coming in harried gasps.  The shop assistant examines the shelf behind him for what seems an inordinate amount of time before informing me that it appears to have sold out.  I am at the point of offering a response when he says he will quickly check the store room.  Through the shop’s window tenebrous storm clouds of the cumulonimbus variety are visible as they surge through a foreboding sky.  I wait anxiously as the seconds pass like an eternity.

Eventually the shop assistant returns empty handed and informs me that the printer ink is out of stock.  With a cursory goodbye I flee the premises.  Predictably the deluge begins seconds later.  Lamenting the loss of my umbrella, which had met its demise the previous day when blown inside-out and damaged beyond repair in a howling gale on this same street, I hurry onwards.

I am about to turn the corner when a large advertisement on the side of a bus on the other side of the road catches my attention. Convinced that my senses are deceiving me I stop to inspect it more closely, struggling to read the poorly designed white font over a brown background.  The advertisement is courtesy of Thames Water (see picture) and consists of a drought warning and the plea to use less water.   A car drives past sending a wave splashing onto my trousers, soaking me to the point of saturation.

Continuing my journey I am astounded after what has been the wettest April in living memory how we can possibly be in a drought.  Merely half an hour earlier I had been informed by Sky News that flood warnings were in force across several counties.  Yet despite this seemingly endless torrential downpour, much of the United Kingdom is officially in drought whilst the kingdom of Saudi Arabia with an average rainfall of only 100mm per year is not.

Here are three April rain related statistics from the UK.

  • Wettest April for over a 100 years.
  • 121.8mm has fallen.
  • 75% more than average.


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  • Unfortunately, with the ground as dry as it was most of the water we’ve seen recently has run off into the sea prior to soaking as far as the water tables.
    Plus, while well above average this month, the rainfall hasn’t been enough to undo the previous deficit (oh look, rain now sounds like economics!)

      • One more month like this and we should be fine (though our supplier hasn’t yet imposed a hosepipe ban!).
        It would be more sensible to collect rainwater of course – it needs less chemical filtration than groundwater. Shame no-one wants to invest the requisite funds.

        The other huge point is that we still lose tens of millions of litres per hour to leaks – 90% of the country is still on victorian plumbing for the main lines (some of which contains lead piping).

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