Water butts can tackle threat of drought

Louise Hack, Deputy Headteacher of Park Mead Primary (back left), Jane Gould, South East Water's Head of Communications (back right) and a number of the school's keen gardeners with their new water butts.
Louise Hack, Deputy Headteacher of Park Mead Primary (back left), Jane Gould, South East Water's Head of Communications (back right) and a number of the school's keen gardeners with their new water butts.
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GARDENERS in Eastbourne are being told to get their butts in gear by a local wildlife charity as the south coast prepares for a hosepipe ban.

As early as next month East Sussex will be plunged into a hosepipe ban and the local branch of national wildlife charity the RSPB wants local people to do their bit by adding water butts to their gardens.

The average rainfall so far across south east England this winter has been the lowest since 1972 and has culminated in the forthcoming ban on overuse of water.

And, with that in mind, Steve Gilbert, a conservation programme manager for the RSPB, told the Herald, “This serious and prolonged drought has already had a big impact on RSPB wetland nature reserves across the region with dry conditions threatening to impact this spring’s breeding season at many sites.

“While we are taking steps to use water as efficiently as possible on our reserves, in the wider countryside prospects are bleak for wildlife that needs moist soil conditions and healthy rivers.

“The announcement of a hosepipe ban is a clear signal that we all need to do our bit to reduce our impact on the environment and help avoid further damage. Saving water will ensure more stable, resilient habitats for the birds and other wildlife that depend on our water environments for their survival.”

According to the Met Office, there is only a 15 per cent chance of the next three months being abnormally wet to help restock reservoirs and aquifers.

But what steps can people take locally? Mr Gilbert explained, “Sometimes it’s obvious where we can save water such as collecting rainwater to water our gardens or taking showers instead of baths.

“Other times the water connection may be less obvious but it could be just as important for wildlife and the environment.

“We recommend dozens of little changes that you can make at home and in the garden, which will make a real difference to help save water, conserve energy, reduce waste, help protect our environment, and may even save you some money too.”

These include fixing leaky taps, using a hosepipe with a trigger on it rather than a sprinkler system, watering gardens in the evening and allowing lawns to grow longer between cutting.

More advice on saving water is available on the RSPB’s website, www.rspb.org.uk/advice/green/water.