Despite wet weather over the winter holidays, the chance of a drought this summer still remains. Charlotte Reid has more on the possibility of a hosepipe ban and other water saving measures that could be introduced this year.
Parts of the country still remain at a high risk of drought and unless there is significant rainfall soon, then more restrictions could be introduced. These measures would include more drought permits and customer restrictions on water usage like hosepipe bans.
The Environment Agency says that, “If rainfall over the rest of winter and spring 2012 is below average, central and eastern England as well as the south east of England is at high risk of drought in summer 2012 and even into 2013”.
In December, there was some wet weather which helped to improve river flows and reservoir levels. Yet soil is still dry and groundwater recharge, where water moves from the surface to groundwater level, is slow.
These problems have happened because some areas of the country have in the last 12 months have been experiencing the driest weather since records began. But work is already underway to prevent drought conditions. In December 2011 the Government issued a warning to water companies, people and businesses to act and prevent a water shortage in 2012.
Caroline Spellman, environment secretary, said, “If we have another dry winter, there is a high risk that parts of the country will almost certainly be in drought next summer – so it is vital we plan ahead to meet this challenge”. Part of this preparation included the Environment Agency granting Anglian Water a drought permit.
Another step that water companies might have to consider later in the year to help reduce water usage is to introduce a hosepipe ban. This water saving measure can typically save 5-10% of water on a daily basis when they are in place, although this is dependent upon factors such as weather and the season.
As well as introducing measures to get people to use less water, the Environment Agency has a report which lists the responsibilities that Government, local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies have when managing a drought.
In times of drought, water companies are supposed to increase detecting leaks in their pipes and to fix the problems quickly, amongst other measures. Water leakage is a huge problem in the UK – the water industry leaks 3.4 billion litres a day.
Ofwat, which regulates the water companies, says that water leaks happen when the pipes wear out or are affected by the weather such as freezing conditions. However, the water companies are expected to manage their leakage problems. Ofwat reported in 2011 that six water companies had failed their leakage targets – Anglian Water, Dwr Cymru, Northumbrian Water, Southern Water, Severn Trent Water and Yorkshire Water. Between them they leaked 115 mega litres (that’s 115 million litres) every day.
So there are bigger problems to fix than a hosepipe ban can solve.
The future of water in the UK has a huge impact on all of us. Firstly, the impact of droughts will also affect the environment, habitats and agriculture. The Wall Street Journal speculated about the long term problems for the UK after the dry weather in the summer. The reported wheat yields could be affected permanently because in East Anglia wheat yields were down by 15-20% in 2011.
Secondly, it seems that droughts may become commonplace in the future. The Environment Agency has warned that future demand for water in England will start to outstrip supply. Reports looking to the future of water show that it could become more likely to experience droughts that last 12-18 months.
The south and the east of England, which is already under stress, will face more droughts because of population increase. But the problem will extend to other areas of the country too extending to Wales, the south west and northern England.
If you want to look at better options for water companies then Wessex Water and water-only companies (Bristol, Cambridge, Dee Valley, Portsmouth, Sembcorp Bournemouth, South East and South Staffs) all get a clean bill of water health from Ofwat.
How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life
Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense. But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?
For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out. A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession. This bigger issue was that of climate change. And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.
Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more. He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland. There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.
The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done. With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet. The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind. As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness. The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small. The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty. As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.
We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help. And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet. Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change. You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed. But so is he. Every change starts with one.
5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House
Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.
The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.
Pitch in for the kitchen
If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.
There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.
Add an attic or a basement bedroom
Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.
If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.
Transformation with paint
If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.
Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.
Secure with style
All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.
Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind
A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.
First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.
Spice up the landscaping
Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.
Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.
Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.
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