By Fran Southgate
Living Landscape Advisor
It’s been an amazing summer so far – more sunshine than I can remember in a long time, and a local beach that’s starting to feel like the Mediterranean. It’s a very nice feeling to be so warm all the time, but permanent sunshine also means that June was an unusually dry month, with rainfall for the Solent and South Downs area just 4% of the long term average.
Right now, the yellowing of the fields makes it easy to see how dry the land has become over the space of a few weeks. Our ponds and streams are drying up to a trickle. Both wildlife and people are starting to feel the pinch, so it’s times like these that we ask you to think about reducing your water use, to give our wildlife some help.
Sussex is unique in where we get our water supply from. We have huge and valuable caverns of water right under our feet. Immense natural underground fissures in the chalk and greensand, storing vast quantities of pure, clean, cool water for us, that we pump out for over a million people every day.
When we have a drought, Sussex people often ponder wonder why the surface of Sussex is still wet but our water stores are dry. More often than not our droughts here are when these amazing underground caverns are starting to run dry, because we are asking them to supply us with too much water. Our droughts in Sussex often come literally from the ground beneath our feet.
When full, these natural water aquifers pump out unique chalk and greensand spring water which creates some very rare and unusual habitats for wildlife, and which feed our streams and rivers. As we get further through this dry spell, these natural springs are starting to disappear as the aquifer levels get lower.
So this is where we ask you to do your bit to help prevent a water shortage from happening underground as well as above it. If everyone in Sussex can use at least one litre of water less a day, then we can save over nine million litres of water a week. If you can do your bit, then our wetlands and wildlife will have more of a chance to make it through the dry spell until the rain hopefully starts to replenish our aquifers again in autumn.