Today the hosepipe bans comes in for parts of eastern and southern England.  Yes, it is snowing or raining in many parts of the UK and it is doubtful that anyone will be reaching for their hose this weekend, but the ban is a symptom that we just have not had the right amount of rain.

While not all of us are covered by the ban, we all have a role to play in both responding to the drought and in taking the necessary steps of minimising the impact of future droughts.

Yesterday, I outlined some of the things that we are doing to respond to the drought and manage water for wildlife on our reserves.

Today, I want to offer those simple things we can do in our own lives and what government and water companies should do.

There are some simple things that we can do to reduce the water we use in their home and garden which will help to protect rivers and wetlands.

We can...

...take short showers rather than baths 
...use water butts and used water from washing up bowls and basins to water gardens and house plants and water in the evening to reduce loss from evapo-transpiration
...only use washing machines and dishwashers when you have a full load
...comply with hose-pipe ban restrictions and please don’t use hose-pipes or sprinklers in the garden or to clean your car your water company for water efficient shower heads, water butts and shower timers.
...use drought-resistant plants in the garden and use ample compost and mulch to retain soil moisture
...if you’re buying new bathrooms or ‘white goods’ go for the most water efficient kit available  (which will also save energy of course)

[I have to say that this was a little painful to write as I do like baths, but I am determined to shake the habit.]

We can also help garden wildlife by...

...considering leaving some water (from your butt) for birds to drink and bathe.
...maintaining an area of mud to help freshly arriving migrant birds like swallows and martins gather material for their nests.

And it is worth remembering that our heathlands are very dry at the moment (70 acres of Ashdown Forest burnt just 2 weeks ago) so please also please take care whilst out and about in the countryside. Threatened species like the nightjar and the Dartford warbler, and rare reptiles like the sand lizard and the smooth snake, are exceptionally vulnerable to the risk of fire.

While the RSPB is urging the public to play its role in helping our river and wetland wildlife through this drought, we are also working with the government and its agencies to help make sure that we and our environment can cope better with future droughts.

We want...

...more investment in the next water industry business plan period (2015-2020) to renew our mains infrastructure to help drive wasteful leakage down (leakage in the drought areas has flatlined since the last drought as most companies are at their so-called economic level of leakage despite environmental risks and social concern which hinders drought management). 
...action to stop water company abstractions that threaten our most important rivers and wetlands even when there is no drought.
...far greater efforts made to make our society water efficient and to painlessly cut consumption levels from 160 litres per head per day toward 100 litres per head per day.

We will also be continuing our efforts to change the way we manage water in the countryside to retain more water in the landscape, to help protect and enhance  our precious aquifers and to reduce the waste of land drainage. We think that habitat repair and creation have an important role in protecting our groundwater sources of water from pollution while also helping to prolong the period of recharge (Soil Moisture Deficits are made worse by intensive agricultural activities above aquifers).

So we (including me) can all do our bit and step up for nature in times of drought.

What about you? Are you doing your bit?

It would be great to hear your views.

P.S. I am off to Wales next week for a short break before our Members' Weekend in York.  We may or may not have some guest blogs lined up for you next week.  I'm not sure yet!  In any case, have a great Easter weekend.

  • Yes i will be doing my bit on the lines suggested. Just to answer the point about air travel and ecotourism, it is important to consider the numbers surrounding this issue. As I understand air travel and shipping contribute about 10% of global CO2 emissions (power generation is the largest at about 65%). Of that 10%, a very small proportion must be due to eco tourists as against business, commercial and general holiday flights. I think it is fair to say that many of the national and wildlife parks overseas would not exist if they did not generate an income from eco tourists. So while I agree, flying is not eco friendly, flying for the purpose of eco tourism supporting poorer countries with much need foriegn exchange and hence supporting their wildlife, has to be on balance, in my view, beneficial for wildlife. Plus, the actual CO2 numbers generated by this activity in the general order of CO2 emissions is extremely small.

  • There are three water butts behind our rented house ( the landlord did nt put them there) and we shower mostly or always share a bath.... there's a brick in the cistern; we grow most of our own food on an allotment; work is 3 miles away and I moved to be close. The bath is drained to water the polly tunnel.

    Met Office states that climate change brings more extreme weather events; two very cold winters and now a very dry spell; all probably due to high pressures ie blocking events that stop the normal flow of westerlies. This down to CC influence on position jet stream ? how long will this last ?

    Given our fairly high individual carbon useage in UK (related to income most useage in income brackets over 40 g (2nd car plus 2nd home etc)) it is high time that we reaped what have we sown ! Why should Africa have all the grief ? Incidentally California is very dry too and if it continues will pose fundamental questions re our industrialised society which is H2O intense. (View from the bottom from this urban peasant who subsists on less than 11 g)