Widespread reports that south and southeast England are suffering a drought of 1976 proportions raise interesting problems, not least: who owns the water delivered to a consumer? Quite draconian limitations upon water use have been published: no garden-watering, car-washing etc; even our windows are to maintain a steadily increasing layer of dirt. But are there unspoken limitations on what we do with our water after we have used it?
In a country with hot, dry summers, not to mention a reasonable if needs-driven level of eco-consciousness, everyone has installed, or will instal at the next refurbishment, means to collect the acque chiare - rain water, kitchen run-off, shower and basin waste. This water is theirs to use as they choose. Bought and paid for at an ever higher price the greater the consumption. In an eco-house the water system is almost enclosed; much of the water coming in stays. It does not set off down the drains to be recycled by the water company and resold.
Is that the case in England? Or are we paying our bills to rent the use of water which is then mostly returned to the companies for re-renting after clean-up? It's difficult to tell from the media announcements but they do take the form of specific prohibitions - 'banned' activities rather than banned mains water usage (you can leave your kitchen tap running and there's no penalty).
Somehow it is all reminiscent of the television license fee:pay to own the set even if BBC-watching enters the 'cruel and unusual punishment' category. Pay for the water but you can't do what you like with it and you might as well hand it back as all the activities you would use recycled water for are banned.
Dead Mandela Theme Park
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