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Islanders 'should aim to save water all year'

An Isles of Scilly Councillor has said islanders need to be constantly vigilant and save 3-4% water all year, "rather than a much tougher 7-10% when it stops raining for a month or two".

Cllr Steve Sims, Lead Member for Place, said St Mary's and Bryher residents must guard against complacency when the current water shortage lessens in severity.

"If we can do this, allied with measures to improve supply resilience, then we won't ever be facing a water shortage again," he said.

Cllr Sims praised an "amazing six weeks in a row of reduced water usage on St Mary's", saying he would like to congratulate and thank everyone for all the efforts made to save water. He added that the figures for the week ending August 17th are over 8% down on peak usage (5,075,000 litres, w/e July 13th), which is well over one day's supply from the desalination plant saved a week.

"To have saved this much it can't be all down to the locals, our visitors must have been working really hard as well."

However, although he said he is confident the water situation "will be okay if we keep this up", he insisted that it is not safe for people to relax their efforts.

Cllr Sims added "As you keep hearing, it's not possible to get an accurate picture of our reserves so we still don't know what we have. The consequences of saline intrusion are pretty grim, no reliable ground water again until the children who are in school now are pensioners. Measures are being put in place which will help ensure the resilience of our supply but until they are up and running the only thing we can do is save as much water as possible.

"Looking forward, if we get a wet winter then everyone will be breathing a huge sigh of relief, crisis over. Sadly it doesn't quite work like that. Due to global warming it's prudent to assume that summers like this one will become more frequent. Water basically lasts forever, there's the same amount of water on Earth now as there was three billion years ago and it's the same water. It moves around a lot, from the ocean depths to icebergs, glaciers, alpine streams and some briefly loiters in toilet cisterns. So a litre of water wasted in January when it's pouring down is a litre of water that's not there in July."

He said that saving 3-4% all year round will help ensure that the islands are not faced with another water shortage crisis in the future.

Members and officers praised islanders, businesses and visitors for their efforts in conserving water at the last Full Council meeting.


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