WITH famers struggling in the heatwave conditions, springs and boreholes at very low levels, private supplies drying up and water companies calling for customers to conserve supplies, the situation is all too predictable in the view of one Cardigan business owner.

Glyn Hyett has for more than 20 years been advocating a cultural shift in how we value, manage and store rainwater run-off.

He is a founder and director of the UK Rainwater Management Association and runs 3P Technik UK Ltd from his Parc Teifi base.

“We are seeing an increase in local inquiries for tanks and are helping several stressed owners with solutions,” said Glyn.

“Local firms are also flat out at present, working to maintain supplies to holiday lets and agricultural enterprises alike.

“People with springs are looking to buy tanks. Springs cannot keep up with instant demand but over the day there is enough water and that’s why you need the storage.

“People are also looking at storing rainwater. If it rains hard for 15 minutes and you gather that off the roof, the tanks will be full. Otherwise, in these conditions, water will just run off the land and a couple of hours later, you won’t even know it has rained.

“It’s proven technology but one we have forgotten. The Syrians were harvesting rainwater 5,500 years ago.

“Harvesting could also help reduce flooding in somewhere like Cardigan for instance by collecting much of the run off, storing it and then releasing it slowly.”

But it is on a national scale that Glyn would like to see change.

“The good news for us in Wales is that the Assembly Government is introducing common-sense new sustainable drainage regulations from January 2019 that all new developments will have to follow,” he said.

“These should help us all to avoid the stresses that climate change is already bringing with increased variability of weather. This will help us all build a more resilient Wales, better able to cope with floods and droughts alike.

“The Welsh Government is taking a lead with new regulations on sustainable drainage for housing. However, the British government has refused to do anything and we are heading towards a shambles of a system. As an association we are just exasperated

“It needs a government lead, builders need to buy into it and it needs to be done on a mass scale. We need to invest now for 2050 and beyond.

“With climate change, we could be looking at longer hot spells and more heavy downpours and we need to invest now to try to manage that.

“Water is so fundamental and we tend to take it for granted in this country but can you imagine what would happen if a hospital were to run out of water?

“The agricultural sector is likely to be the first to be hit by stresses on water supplies, reflected in steadily increasing investment in farm-level storage of winter rainfall for summer use.

“This is where the lack of national strategies and policies really hits home, as storing water in this way could, given the right policies, also help to alleviate flooding risks; these too are predicted by the Environment Agency to be on the increase.

“If farmers simply store the water they need for their own use, then their reservoirs are likely to be full by late autumn, thereafter simply overflowing to leave downstream flood risks unchanged.

“However, if farmers were encouraged to include additional attenuation capacity in their storage, this could be used to temporarily store water during peak weather events, for subsequent controlled release when the storm has abated.

“Similar principles apply in urban areas, where developments to provide homes and workplaces for a growing population, increase both flood risks and the strain on already stressed water-supplies. To not take both of these factors into account in national policy is simply bewildering.

“This weakness in surface water management policy could be rectified at a stroke by national adoption of the sustainable drainage standard originally developed by the Environment Agency for UK-wide application.

“This would then require the foremost measure in SuDS designs to be the storage of rainfall for subsequent non-potable uses such as toilet flushing, clothes washing machines, and the outside tap.

“Such a policy, applied to a typical three or four bed new house, could be expected to reduce the mains-water consumption of the property by around 40%; very much greater water-savings are likely for commercial buildings, if they have a large roof and a high demand for non-potable water.

“As with a farmer’s reservoir, to be effective in helping to mitigate both floods and droughts, the water storage tanks associated with rainwater harvesting systems need to be able to attenuate water during peak weather events.

“This can be done within the storage capacity of the tank itself, by arranging for it to overflow into communal systems serving smaller properties, by overflowing into a balancing pond, or by a combination of these.”