Flooding in a Drought

Saturday 1473 – 5th May 2012

I watched the FA cup final today with my son and was going to write about what a great victory Liverpool had over Chelsea but I’ve changed my mind… largely because they didn’t have any sort of victory over Chelsea let alone a great one !!!

So instead I’m going to write about (and show you a couple of photos of ) flooded Cambridgeshire in the middle of a drought and when there’s a hosepipe ban in most of the South East of England !!  If you think that doesn’t make sense read on.. ..

The last 18 months ( before April that is) have been the driest in East Anglia for 100 years. Apparently in a good year we only get 2/3rds of the average rain the rest of the UK gets. In 2011 we only got 2/3rds of 2/3rds if you get my drift! It’s serious in this region because we grow so many of the nations crops, for example a third of the nations potatoes.

Ironically a hose pipe ban was introduced by Anglian water on the 5th April and it hasn’t stopped raining since. April has been the wettest on record and there are floods everywhere. I wouldn’t want to be wading out to sit on these benches would you??

Heres a bit from Anglian Waters website where they explain why all this flooding has less of an impact on the “hidden drought” than we imagine it should –

“unfortunately, it’s not going to make much of a dent on underground water levels unless it persists for many more weeks, possibly months.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to refill our reservoirs, and some of them are recovering quite well. But the challenge we have is that they are starting from a very low level, following so many months of below average rainfall.

“Our aquifers – the water stores that you cannot see – are also starting from a very low level. The difficulty we have is that they take longer to be affected by rainfall, and that’s why these downpours won’t fundamentally change the situation.”

What happens to the rain?

  • At this time of year, a lot of rainfall is absorbed by growing trees and plants. When the weather gets warmer, much is also lost to evaporation.
  • The ground is very hard, because of the lack of rain over the last two years. This means that it takes longer for water to soak into the ground, with more water ‘running off’ into drains, rivers, and streams.
  • Once the soil does start to absorb the water, it acts like a dry sponge, recharging itself. Only once this ‘sponge’ is saturated can excess water start to make its way into aquifers.
  • Anglian Water captures a lot of the rain that flows into the rivers, and pumps it into reservoirs. Most of these have recovered well following the recent rainfall – but reservoirs only supply half of the drinking water we need in our region.

Ciaran continued: “We’ve got to be careful not to let the recent rainfall mask the ‘hidden drought’ that still exists in our groundwater stores. These aquifers are still notably low. It takes longer for them to be affected by drought, but it also takes longer for them to recover when it rains – many months, in some cases.”

But it’s not as straightforward as that. Anglian water admits on it’s website to leakage of 

“around six cubic metres per kilometre of pipe in our network. That’s compared to an industry average of just under 11 cubic metres”

and goes on to say that it will spend £14 million on tackling leakage. Their profits reported in June 2011 were said to be £709 million. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!!!

I’m sure they’re not alone in either leakage or profit !   An article in The Independent as long ago as July 2010 stated that “3,300,000,000 litres are lost every single day through leakage”  

Yes that does say EVERY SINGLE DAY ! and I doubt that has improved enormously. if you’ve got time have a read as it goes on to say that water companies are restricted by the regulator Ofwat who dictates how much they can spend on leaks! Surely that can’t be right?? If it is the world has indeed gone mad!

My own personal water supply actually comes from Cambridge Water rather than Anglian water and 97% of the water supplied by them comes from underground aquifers but maybe because of better management of leaks?? we don’t actually have a “Temporary Usage Ban” as they call it though I don’t think it likely that anyone is going to be using a hosepipe for some time anyway !! 

Oh and this is what happens if you rely too much on your SatNav – There is a road under this car which is beside a pub where I had lunch with a friend of mine. The person who was driving it was apparently following their SatNav to get to the Pub – there are 2 roads and this is the wrong one !!!

SatNav users beware!

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What’s happening in your region weather wise?  Are you having extremes of weather too?  I’d be interested to hear your stories.

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Goodbye from Saturday Girl until next week or join me every day on my other blog Helen’s Photomania here   where you’ll find lots more photos.

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Acqua Alta, Umbrellas and Wellies….

I know it’s not Saturday but here’s an extra post ….

I have long wanted to experience the famous Venetian Acqua Alta; when the lowest parts of Venice are flooded and  I had my chance on Sunday 6th November. I had been checking out some Venetian websites before I arrived in the city to see if there was any chance to see it on this 5 day trip and it seemed as though there would be one the day after I arrived. ( and as it turned out on each day after)

You certainly know when one is expected because a very loud siren sounds throughout the city ( at 7 a.m on the days I was there !) warning the population, who duly put on their wellington boots and carry on as normal.

I’m told the men who take away Venice’s rubbish are also tasked with putting in place the temporary raised wooden walkways which are essential to keep the pedestrian traffic flowing freely through this gorgeous city..

After putting up the boardwalks the bin men  carried on with rubbish collection as normal or nearly as normal..

I had mixed feelings about the Acqua Alta because the flooding can be very serious for the people who live and work in the city, particularly when the water is very high. For tourists it is an extraordinary experience which brings out the childlike wonderment and sense of fun in many people, myself most definitely included.

Some people loved it

but others didn’t seem quite so sure.

and I had certainly never seen a canoe in the middle of St Mark’s Square before 🙂

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It seems everyone in Venice owns at least one pair of wellington boots and they can be quite a fashion item; coming in every imaginable colour and design. Thigh high waders are worn by some, others wear bright colours or jazzy patterns. Some are stylish with lace-ups or cut outs.

( Click on any of the photos on this page for a closer look.)

Which ones are your favourites? Do tell…

These are mine -a pair that are see through with rubber soles that fit over your own shoes for those who wouldn’t be seen dead in Wellies !! ( take a closer look)

Of course there were those who improvised…..

….but quickly found this wasn’t such a good idea

I loved the expression on his face as his plastic bags filled up with water.

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Venetians also carry umbrellas; some tiny and some so big you imagine the owner is intending to have a party underneath ! This phenomenon is new to me as I’ve previously only visited during spring and autumn months and never seen rain in Venice before, but of course it’s essential to carry an umbrella because Venetians have to walk so much to get to wherever they need to be.

Like the wellies the umbrellas came in many colours, some people looked elegant but others rather silly, especially those who had fallen victim to the hard sell and were carrying umbrellas with Venetian scenes on them. Ugh, soooo tacky. The pink one with sheep and the pink cow were definitely NOT my favourites !!

I found it quite funny to watch the opening of umbrellas en masse as, antlike, Venetians scurried across the boardwalk tutting if tourists stood still to take photos and blocked their way.

So much so that this girl got off the boardwalk to take her photos.

It’s not only the people who are kept dry, some owners cover up their dogs as well…poor things ! It just doesn’t look right to me !

This woman was evidently taking no chances and was well prepared to keep everything dry with colourful wellies, umbrella and a coat for her dog !!

Ah! Venice always full of surprises and just as lovely in the rain.

Saturday girl signing off for now… watch out for the 1498th episode, coming soon…Ciao, Ciao !!