You know me and my obsessions everyone: sometimes it’s recycling and micro-plastics and reducing waste. At the moment I’m on a mission save water, and so today, as grey clouds loom over the city and rain falls in torrents, I thought I’d give you a watered down version of what’s going on in my head- so as not to bore you rigid.
Yesterday I met friends for lunch in District on the Ormeau Road. As I sat, eating a Portuguese tart and sipping tea, a downpour of Biblical proportions began. Rain gathered in the awning and gushed along the guttering, before streaming onto the footpath below. I had to restrain myself from asking for a wee basin: I thought the cafe was missing an ideal opportunity to harvest the water and use it later for their plants. Obsessed I have become- I’m telling you.
In July, as the ground baked and my lawn turned brown and crispy, I became ever more conscious of dwindling water supplies, and how quickly our reserves here in Northern Ireland become depleted. I am grateful for my water butt which I made LSB buy (and install) last year. Since we have our own supply, I never feel guilty about watering my plants and I even managed to resuscitate my poor parched sweet peas, after failing to notice how dried out they had become. That’s the thing about plants- needy little feckers.
What was it David Attenborough said, ‘Live the life you want to lead, just don’t waste anything.’ If he could see our failing water system, I fear his ninety-four year old heart might splinter in two. We lose so much of our water supply to leaks as in hot weather the ground overheats and contracts, causing the water pipes to crack, wasting thousands of litres. This happens ALL THE TIME here, because the system is so elderly (Victorian, if we’re being precise) and long overdue reconstruction.
There are massive problems with the infrastructure and a lack of funding, but there are small steps we can take to protect our water supplies, thereby allowing NI Water to direct costs elsewhere into improving the system.
Obviously there are the ways to save water- not overfilling the kettle when you’re making the ninth cup of tea that day; turning off the tap when we brush our teeth, shorter showers etc. So far, so obvious.
But have you heard about the ‘fatbergs’? No, this isn’t an American comedy you’d find in the early hours on E4. Seriously, if you’re eating, come back to this post later because this is ROTTEN. You know when you’re cooking your mince and you fire the grease down the drain because you think it’s only a wee dribble? Well, imagine everyone is doing that, including restaurants and cafes.* The dribble becomes a flood, and when this hot fat hits the cold pipes it congeals. Here’s the queasy bit. Wet wipes, even the ones which claim to be flushable, stick to these, as do sanitary products which folk still insist on chucking down the loo. These create enormous ‘fatbergs’ which take huge amounts of time and expense to disperse. If NI Water weren’t dealing with this sort of nonsense, they may be able to put their money to better use.
Which brings me to my proposal, water butts for all! Wouldn’t it be amazing if NI Water could team up with a company and use recycled plastic to provide water butts for renters and home owners alike? This way everyone could have access to their own water, and wouldn’t have to use purified water from their taps to douse their dahlias and feed their fuchsias. I even use mine to rinse out the plastic containers that I pop in my blue bin.
What do you reckon? If you were offered a water butt do you think you’d use it? And how about if a big multi-national company saw fit to MAKE the water butts form their recycled bottles? Obviously, I’m thinking of Coca Cola. They do own ‘River Rock’, after all, so surely they have an interest in water supplies. I contacted them to see what sustainable steps, if any, they were taking during the dry period in July with regard to water consumption, but I’m still waiting on a response.
It’s just a thought- but on days like this when it’s lashing non-stop, I can’t help but think we shouldn’t let a precious resource flow straight down the drain. My water butt is now almost replenished after last week, so that’s me set up again for months ahead. What can I say? I like big butts and I cannot lie ….. (sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
*If you wait for the fat to cool, you can pour it straight into your brown compost caddy, on top of vegetable waste which will soak it up. I’ve taken to lining my caddy with newspaper for any excess liquid. (I take pride in sourcing articles which feature BoJo’s face for this job.)