Autistic Conservative Charlie Keeble today writes in the Havering Daily:
The borough of Havering and other parts of London have suffered from another heavy rainfall. Flooding has bought chaos to the city’s transport network with railway lines and roads flooded. This is the second flash flood to hit Havering since 26th June. That one put my garden underwater and it flooded the patio under two inches of water.
As the fire services were called out to tackle the floods, a part of me felt this is a very awful thing to happen to Havering. Stuck in places where the water level was so high, some people were cut off. Residents were trapped as they were cut off from getting to safety or getting to work. I saw video footage of Stratford railway station waterlogged and several other stations were closed off because the trains couldn’t run through them.
Another part of me saw this crisis as an opportunity. I am a scientist in training studying hydrology and I have ambitions to make Britain a water superpower. This rainfall could be a useful source of fresh drinking water to replenish our supplies when in a period of drought or a heatwave. I’ve studied how the Israelis developed so many clever water technologies through the years that they were able to turn a small speck of desert into a water rich nation. Britain might not be a desert nation, but it doesn’t manage it’s water supply very well. This is where we can use these flash floods as a source as well as a hazard.
For the last year I have been developing a project to bring a new common source of water for a Nigerian community. This West African nation is very wet with an average rainfall of around 2500 – 4000 mm a year. Rainwater harvesting involves using the roof of your home as a collecting pan and then channelling the water through the guttering into water tanks. The practical use of this is that with a filter you can turn this into drinkable water or use that water as an alternative to the taps on a dry day. Saving you hundreds of pounds on water bills every year.
You can buy these rainwater harvesting kits from DIY stores and they are relatively cheap to build. Since you are likely to already have guttering on your house all you need to buy is a water tank and a filter. They cost from £60 to £1950 depending on what kit and tank size you buy. I can recommend to people that this is a very worthy investment that may be very useful to you in the long term as a money saving device to your home. The amount of water you can collect depends on the rainfall and the area of your roof.
Find components here: RainWater Harvesting Ltd
Another useful piece of water technology for cultivatingrainwater is drip irrigation for plants. Many gardeners water their plants by showering the plants with water which can include flooding the beds and flowerpots. This is called flood irrigation. They believe that by doing this they can get as much water to the plant as possible that can last for a whole day. But studies have shown it’s not as effective as it looks.
Flood irrigation only uses 50% of the water that gets to the root of the plants, while the other half is lost to absorption into the soil and then evaporation into the air. Drip irrigation has an efficiency of 96% of the water going into the plant. Last year I built a drip irrigation mechanism using a plastic bottle attached to a bamboo stick and used it to increase the water supply to a sunflower that helped it to grow quicker and with maximum water efficiency. These drip irrigation systems can be bought as a kit for an entire garden and can save tremendous amounts of water usage for gardeners. In fact it’s so efficient that you can make a garden grow quicker than it takes using the hose.
Find components here: Drip Irrigation Components | Water Irrigation
These ideas for hydrological cultivation will be of benefit to the residents of Havering. I would invest in them for a home improvement plan right now. The average amount of rainfall in Britain is 1500 mm. A 150 square metre roof can harvest 225’000 litres of rainwater a year. Rainwater harvesting also has a benefit in preventing flooding because it takes water away from the drains to prevent them from being overwhelmed.
During the last summers over ten years I have noticed heatwaves have kept our homes dry and chronically short of water for gardening and drinking water at home. What I want to see more of in our public infrastructure is water harvesting on a mass scale that can use the flash floods to our advantage. Havering is a borough along an ancient Roman river and our water supply comes from the Hanningfield Reservoir which is run by Essex and Suffolk water. If they can’t provide enough water in the summer during a drought then we had better learn to be clever with our water. Instead of trying to drain the flooding, capture it and store it for future use.
I do hope that the council takes up these ideas to make Havering become water secure when a drought happens and captures water when a flash flood occurs.