Another week of WCD and another fascinating selection of pretty pictures – of phytoplankton blooms in particular. But the image that inspired me most was the soil moisture anomaly of Europe, shown by Pete Inness when talking of the Polish floods (link). But my eye was drawn rather closer to home, seeing a 2-3 (unknown normalised units) dry anomaly across Southern England. This struck me as no surprise, I’ve needed to water the garden practically every day for weeks, but as was pointed out to me, this could well bring back a British media summer staple phrase, missing since 2006, “hosepipe ban“. Soil moisture of course is going to be largely based on the recent rain… Only 15.4mm at the atmospheric observatory in May up to the 27th (largely attributable to the Shonk Effect).
So will we be back to the summers of old where the words hose pipe ban are mentioned by the press at every hint of rain? A trip to the CEH website allows us a look at the groundwater will show signs of the soil dryness seen, but a look at that map shows the water levels in the aquifers are normal or above normal, with our closest site, “Stonor Park” showing a little above normal. The 2010 rainfall accumulation until the end of April has shows very near average rainfall, this will be the reason the groundwater levels are near normal.
It would only be fair for me to mention that Thames water have a good record when it comes to hosepipe bans. The ban in 2006 to early 2007 was their first for 15 years and came after several years of drought, so this region is not prone to hosepipe bans.
Looks like we shouldn’t be too worried yet, but if the recent dry period continues, perhaps the media will again be filled with hosepipe bans. This is the point to turn to the Met Office’s summer forecast… So failing that, I suggest if water levels get low in Reading, we simply give Jon Shonk further roles in WCD.