It’s not that North Devon lacks water, particularly in the last 12 months.
In 2007, rainfall was something like 70% above average over the summer months.
It was soggy from about the first week of May until early August. And oh how the wind blew, as only it can on the hills of North Devon.
Up on the allotments, potato blight took hold in the damp conditions.
Ironic, perhaps, as the allotments have no water supply. The only running water comes out the sky – usually horizontally.
One of the more resourceful plot holders – let’s call him Bill – has rigged up an elaborate water collection system. At the village road end, over 100 metres from his plot(s), sits the football team‘s clubhouse. Bill has an arrangement with the club. He gets their runoff for maintaining the gutters.
Last weekend – in the rain – Bill was busy pumping water into several large storage tanks he has installed up there. It made my 210 litre water butt, which I carted up, look puny.
On the (virulent) local grapevine I’ve heard that the Parish Council refused to install a water pipe. They argued it would put up allotment charges. At £5 a year charges are hardly steep and most plot holders seemed happy to fork out a bit extra.
Like Bill, I’ve got my own ingenious water collection system. Well, not really.
Our next door neighbour’s downpipe empties into a butt. And, proceeds to overflow after an hour or so of rain. The runoff is considerable and there’s no proper overflow into the drainage system.
To get the water from here up to the allotments I’ve been filling 4 pint (2.27 litre) milk cartons, pushing them up in the wheelbarrow and filling up the allotment butt. A few more journeys and it will be full.
Last March I bought in a second butt to capture more water. It was a flatpack tank (cheap!) that lasted about 3 weeks before collapsing under the weight of water on night of heavy rain. There’s a more sturdy replacement there now.
But, this morning I went out to find that the tank I inherited was empty. It has a leak.