There is no single definition of a drought. However, it can be defined as an extensive period when a region has a deficiency in its water supply, whether this is surface or underground water. Generally a drought occurs when a region has not received its average precipitation for the time of year. A drought can last for months or even years but it can be declared after as few as 15 days. A drought of any length can cause significant damage and harm to the environment, agriculture, health, economy and social factors.
Water usage over the years has increased due to an increase in the population, climate change and also because peoples lifestyles have changed. Droughts are a fairly common occurrence within the UK and here at Direct Water Tanks we want to help people conserve water. In the South East of England where there is a high population of people, water is scarcer than anywhere else within England and Wales. There is also less water available in this area, than what there is in many Mediterranean countries!
Water suppliers have their own ways of dealing with droughts but the Environment Agency have set up a scheme, so that all water companies in England and Wales have a duty to have 25 years of plans showing how they will manage their water resources in the future. In these plans, the water suppliers will show how they will collect, store and transport water to meet the demands, if there is a drought. It is important that the water suppliers are ready and prepared in case of unusual prolonged dry weather that threatens their water supplies.
Rainwater harvesting can dramatically reduce the demand and relieve pressure on water from our reservoirs. Rainwater harvesting systems collect rainwater directly from the surface that it has fallen on. This would have otherwise gone into the drainage systems or would have been lost through evaporation or transpiration, this water would have therefore been wasted. Once the water has been collected and stored in a rainwater harvesting system, it can be used for non-potable purposes.
If water is collected and stored correctly with little treatment the rainwater can not only be used in the garden but also for toilet flushing and in washing machines (if the water is clean and sediment free). This type of rainwater harvesting needs only little maintenance and treatment, this makes it relatively cheap and simple. These systems also therefore have little environmental impact. However, there are more complex rainwater harvesting systems which can be installed that need more treatment and maintenance, making them more expensive but these systems will have more options on where the water can be used. These however have a higher environmental impact. Rainwater harvesting systems could also save up to 50% of a household’s usage if the right rainwater harvesting system is used, ultimately reducing water bills too, if the person has a water meter installed.
The benefits of rainwater harvesting are that it reduces the demand on rivers and reservoirs and it also removes the need for pumping mains water, meaning the energy use and CO2 emissions are also reduced. Other benefits are that rainwater is softer, meaning it leaves no lime scale, so washing clothes in soft water requires less detergent and therefore reduces the water pollution.
Another problem that occurs when a region is in a drought is that when rain does begin to fall the ground is that solid it just runs straight off the surface instead of soaking in, causing flooding if the rainfall is substantial enough. A way to reduce the chances of this happening is by installing a rainwater harvesting system.
Overall, if we all did our bit to save water around the home, garden and at work, it would make a huge contribution to preserving our water levels. Reducing water usage in the home is a simple and easy way to decrease energy and water bills and to also reduce the household’s impact on the environment. Why waste free water?