Drought puts paid to grid

Written by BirdWatch

The lack of water, expected to worsen as the summer proceeds, is already affecting thousands of waders, wildlfowl, amphibians, fish and insects. The reservoir at the RSPB and United Utilities’ new reserve near Manchester, at Dove Stone in the Peak District National Park, is a third empty, and the bog vegetation has been described a “tinder-dry”, depriving wader and Red Grouse chicks of essential food.

However, UU has also launched a new project called the Sustainable Catchment Management Programme to help prevent future droughts in what should be a water-rich Britain. UU, conservationists and farmers will work together to restore wetlands and peat bogs, plant new woodlands and restrict grazing, reversing the centuries of exploitative drainage that have depleted naturally wet upland areas.

The large-scale ‘re-wetting’ will enhance drinking water quality, help shore up defenses against flooding and prevent the loss of irreplaceable peat, as well as having the agreeable side effect of encouraging scarce birds and other wildlife.

Lobbyists that promoted the idea of a National Water Grid to pipe massive amounts of water from the north to the overpopulated South-East have been somewhat undermined by the drought hitting those proposed source areas hard. The NWG would have been very expensive, energy-hungry and hugely environmentally damaging and would merely have created extreme water-loss problems elsewhere, it now seems.

It is apparent that there are no regions of Britain that have the amounts of water needed to ‘bail out’ areas of ‘water-scarcity’, and that we would be better off effectively managing water use and preventing leakage and waste.

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