Water, water everywhere, but not a drop for our allotment: letter to the editor

Photo by Hyena, Wikimedia Commons

Dear Editor,

Great to see that the CEO of the parent company of South West Water (SWW) has only earned 1.6m in the last year. I really can’t see how we expect her to manage on such a small amount!. She obviously doesn’t invest in hose pipe manufacturers.

We have a hose pipe ban in my part of North Devon, apparently because our serving reservoir has only 66 per cent of its expected capacity, due apparently to a ‘dry’ February and last summer’s heatwave.

So, someone earning £1.6 m has not heard of global warming and  taken time to consider its effect?  One might have thought that she would have planned and built new reservoirs. No! Far better to pay huge dividends to shareholders and tell me that I can’t clean my car or water my allotment.

Getting back to our allotment: it is sited next to a stream that flows through the village. That same stream a few years ago flooded part of the village, virtually destroying the ground floor of our pub and causing great distress to quite a few households. It flooded because the Environment Agency failed to unblock the overflow system that they themselves had installed!

The same Environment Agency states that, without a permit, one can take 20 cubic metres of water from that stream each day.  

However this is not allowed to be extracted by hose pipe.

This stream does not flow into a SWW reservoir but gently disappears into the sea via Barnstaple.

Problem is that the allotment holders got together and purchased a small pump, with a hose that can take water from the stream and reach, by hose pipe, everyone’s plot. The alternative is to take a watering can, walk to the stream, go on one’s hands and knees, fill it and go and water. Then repeat the same many times over.

Most of the allotment members are elderly. In no way did they ever take 20 cubic metres of water per day.

However, they all pay their water bills. Close inspection of the same shows that getting rid of sewage costs more than the actual water consumed. So we are paying SWW  to pump sewage into the rivers and sea, but are not allowed to easily take water from a stream that does not add to the piped water supply.

Working an allotment is a harmless hobby. Produce that is grown is healthy, nutritious and more tasty because you grew it yourself. In every way, it is positive.

Water is our most valuable natural resource. To have its collection, cleansing and supply controlled by private companies is a disgrace. 

But, of course, most things in the UK at the moment are a disgrace.


Ian Jacques