Britains’ summer woes continue to aggravate
Southampton, (England), August 7
Set up as an emergency desalination facility, the Thames Water facility in east London has been temporarily shut down, at a time when parts of England and the capital London are in the throes of a looming water crisis and a hosepipe ban triggered by extreme dry spells and prolonged heat wave.
The plant facility which was opened in 2010 to boost drinking supplies in London and Thames valley during long dry spells and emergencies has been switched off with no clear dates assigned for its opening. The Thames water company officials say the drought facility has been closed as it is undergoing “necessary planned work”. The water from the Thames estuary undergoes intensive treatment at the plant facility before it is supplied further as drinking water. According to media reports, the company has also said that the facility would be able to supply water only by early next year, despite London facing a record heat wave in July and a prolonged dry supply since 1976. Further, the facility also figures in the drought planning submitted to the Environment agency in 2022. As of now, the company is carrying out repair work on electrical systems and pipework.
In the backdrop of the closure of the emergency drought facility, there has also been worrying news on the river front as well. As experts have warned that the source of the River Thames has moved five miles downstream for the first time in its history. While parts of the riverbed in Gloucestershire regularly dry out during the summer, experts said it was a worrying sign of the impact of the climate crisis to see the Thames begin flowing so far downstream. “The climate crisis is leading, and will lead, to more extreme weather including droughts and heatwaves. This poses a grave threat to rivers and, as a result, the wider landscape,” said Christine Colvin of the River Trust.
Meanwhile with little rain forecast in the immediate future, the first ban on the use of hose pipes has come into effect from August 5 in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, which are supplied by Southern Water. “I had received an e-mail from the council office, about the ban on the use of hose-pipe. I have grown vegetables and flowers in my garden. I do not know how I will manage to sustain them. It is the first time that the supplier has issued a hose pope ban since 2012, when we had witnessed an extremely dry summer,” said Holly Peterson, a resident of Southampton. South East water, which serves 2.2 million customers in Kent, Sussex an, Surrey and Berkshire are expected to introduce a ban that will affect 1.3 million customers next week.
The Met Office has again forecasted high temperatures for parts of England. It could see temperatures rise to the low or mid-30s by the end of next week due to an area of high pressure building from the Atlantic into the South and South West. The forecaster has also said while it could mean another heatwave, temperatures were likely to be well below the records set last month when thermometers climbed above 40C in some places.
(Neena Sharma is a senior journalist presently in United Kingdowm.)