The imposition of a ban on hosepipe use in the south of England coincided neatly with the arrival of rain bearing winds day after day. It is a very wet kind of drought.
It goes alongside the very cold kind of global warming we are experiencing yet again this April.
Spare me the official explanations. I understand that winter rainfall has been below average for two winters running. I understand that two cold winters and now a cold April may be just patches of weather. We can shivver together, with many still worrying about the long term trend of global warming.
The problem with all these clever explanations, right or wrong, is they defy the present reality that most preoccupies people. It is easier to persuade people there is a natural crisis in our water supply if there has been no rain for weeks and if we are living through a freak heat wave. It is much easier to get people to believe global warming if most of the time they feel warmer than they did a decade ago.
I do not accept the water industry’s claim that the rainfall has been so unusual that we must blame the gods of nature for the shortage of water. I have been urging the water industry in London and the south-east to build more capacity for over a decade now. I remember sending out a press statement years ago when we won the Olympic bid saying that if we did not build another reservoir in the south we would be welcoming people to the Olympics with water rationing in place. They did eventually get round to building an expensive desalination plant, which helps. The truth is they need more storage capacity, and fewer leaks, throughout the south.
People outside the south cannot understand the fuss about water. They have had plenty of snow and rain for their needs. The problem in the south is successive governments have allowed the entry of several millions of additional people, many of whom have settled in the south, without ordering the extra water capacity they need.
There is plenty of rain, even in the south. We do not collect enough of it, and we do not have good enough delivery systems once captured. That can be mended, so even after a winter or two of below average rainfall, we can still use the water we want. Water is the ultimate renewable resource. You cannot destroy it. You just need to capture a bit more of it on its way back to the sea, after rainfall. Other industries take pleasure in meeting growing demand for their products. I do not recall Easter egg rationing or a shortage of turkeys at Christmas.