Watch the water you use with all that washing up to do at Christmas
With the prospect of all that washing up to do over Christmas – and the New Year celebrations to come - now is definitely not the time to turn on the taps and keep them running.
The warning to conserve the precious water that comes out of the River Kennet at Marlborough as been repeated by Charlotte Hitchmough, director of Action River Kennet, the group that campaigns for one of England’s rare chalk streams.
For although recent rainfall has undoubtedly ended, at least temporarily, this year’s significant drought, the Kennet remains in danger, its water level hit by both extraction by Thames Water, which has launched its own Care for the Kennet campaign, and by drought.
“Rainfall over the winter will be critical to fill the aquifer enough to keep the river flowing through next summer,” Charlotte told Marlborough News Online. “In the meantime, we can all make a vital difference by using less water every day.”
“There are simple steps everyone can take -- just having a four-minute shower, swapping your showerhead for a water-efficient one, fixing dripping taps and making sure you don't run water while you clean your teeth, add up to making a difference.”
“The less water that comes out of your tap, the more will be left in the river. And that includes Christmas.”
Eric Gilbert, who has run the Marlborough weather station since 1984, agrees.
“The total rainfall of 603mm for the 12 month period in November 2011 was the driest since June 1997, when it was 584mm,” he reports. “The record low is for the period ending in April 1997 with just 513mm.”
“The two driest months in 2011 were March with 12.7mm and April with 5.4mm. The total for 2011, up to December 19 has been 640.4mm.”
Fortunately, the total rainfall in recent days is encouraging – from December 11 to 19 it hit 55.7mm and last week, December 13 to 19, provided 25.9mm.
And more rain is forecast by the Met Office with light rain due during the daylight hours of Friday.
The Kennet has benefited, the run off raising the level by a couple of centimetres but only for a few hours.
“The overall river level remains at 2cm measured at the Pewsey Road bridge,” explained Charlotte. “Usually the level is between half a metre and a metre at this time of year.”
“The rain we need for the aquifer levels to recover, and for the river to be full again will take months. If over the winter we had average rainfall plus about half again, the river would start to get back to where we'd like it to be.”
“Rainfall over the winter will be critical to fill the aquifer enough to keep the river flowing through next summer.”
For more detailed information about Marlborough’s weather –