We have written quite a bit recently about water and planning for its scarcity. The following guest post from Ewan Michaels addresses the use of rain barrels, or water butts, as they are known in the UK. Of note, the UK looks like it might experience another low-water season, so the use of water butts is being readily promoted. It’s a practice many in other parts of the world – including us in the United States – should consider deploying.
Water is an element that we require on a daily basis; we need it to wash, to cook, to hydrate and to feed our growing plants and flowers. The average person uses approximately 150 litres (39.63 gallons) of water a day, which is quite an incredible amount and shows just how vital it is for daily life. Taking this into consideration, creating your own water source through having a water butt is a big step towards having a sustainable household.
Water butts are large water tanks that store rainwater, which is collected from the roof and is transported through a system of pipes and guttering. Rainwater is ideal for garden usage and would suit those who tend to spend a reasonable amount of time in their garden. Many gardeners claim that the natural pH of rainwater makes it preferable to tap water when it comes to watering growing plants.
Gardeners will be aware of just how much water is needed for gardens, especially during the drier and warmer months, and this can take its toll on local water supplies when they are at their lowest. By having your own water supply for these activities, you are actively decreasing the reliance on local rivers and streams. Water butts come in varying sizes and can store a few hundred litres to several thousand, taking full advantage of the wetter months. Due to the size of water butts, some are actually installed underground to save space and to prevent the eyesore of a giant water tank in your garden.
2011 was the driest year on record for the UK and if this year follows on, hosepipe bans may be introduced affecting the hydration needs for growing plants. This is why some water companies are encouraging people to purchase water butts, with one choosing to release a Valentine’s Day card to highlight their usefulness.
With more and more people becoming interested in growing their own vegetables and plants, the need for water is clearly very important but this is coming at a time in the UK, where rainfall is surprisingly rare. This increases the pressure on water companies and it is understandable why they would prefer more people to become sustainable by having their own personal storage tank. These types of systems also help divert water away from storm management systems, helping to prevent flooding during those times where there is heavy downfall.
It’s evident that water butts are very useful during dry periods and gardeners who wish to be more independent and less reliant on water companies should look to provide their very own water source.
Ewan Michaels is passionate about green energy and believes we would all benefit from less dependence on non-renewable sources. He currently works for UK Water Features
PHOTOS: Lee Jordan and waterbuttsdirect