Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Rainfall Crisis looming in Eastern England

Some of you may have heard that there has been so little rainfall in Eastern England in recent months that there could be a serious crisis next year - so I popped out with my camera and took a few photographs to record what is happening.
First I went to College Lake
And found a seriously flooded track (The sign reads "No Access")

So I then went to Startops Reservoir - about a mile away
It was even lower than when I saw it a week ago - and this is the time of year when reservoirs should be rapidly filling up. The stream feeding the reservoir had completely dried up.

So what on Earth is Happening???
While there really is a potentially serious problem with low rainfalls and very low reservoirs what I have just done is been deliberately selective to produce the most spectacular pictures - which is just what journalists do in order to make a story. So treat this a cautionary tale about how one can be fooled by pictures.

The first thing to say is that, apart from some very minor changes in contrast all pictures are true representations of what the camera saw.

What is undoubtedly true is the Startops Reservoir is at the lowest levels almost anyone can remember, as this line of depth marker posts shows, with the deepest maker in only a few inches of water. But there are three other reservoirs in the area - all of which were very low a few months ago, but are (far too slowly) refilling. The reason Startops Reservoir is so low, and the level is still falling, is that the only input is the overflows from Marsworth and Tringford Reservoirs, and neither of these are full. 

But if there really is a shortage of water why is there a major flood at College Lake. Actually the water level at the gate is perhaps a foot lower than it was six months ago! The water in the background is part of a very large disused chalk quarry which is now a nature reserve. The is no natural surface drainage and the level of the water depends on the rate the water sinks into the chalk. The original calculations were wrong and the lake has risen to a point where the track is permanently flooded.

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