It may just be because I've only lived in Preston since September, and so during the winter, but I can safely say it has been the wettest place I've lived in. Until this year I had no idea how different living in the East or West of the country was from each other. But lots of rain means green, luscious fields and almost never having to water the garden, so it's not all bad.
Other parts of the country are not so lucky however and we've been hearing lots of news about hosepipe bans and drought conditions even before spring has really arrived. The last two years have been some of the driest on record and the effects are beginning to show for both humans and wildlife.
For us the effects are widespread and often hidden within industry and prices. There are direct impacts such as hosepipe bans which fine people for non-essential water use-although you can still water plants with a watering can, just not using a hosepipe! But there are indirect ones too such as potato prices increasing and a shortage of water for other agricultural needs. These are negative impacts but we are unlikely to run out of water, because our authorities will plan and protect this vital resource, but what about the wildlife that share this island with us? What will the impact be for them?
The UK is home to vitally important wetland habitats which are of special scientific interest but the wider wildlife will suffer as drought conditions spread over the summer. With less water in rivers, reservoirs and ponds many animals will find it hard to get a drink and many are likely to die unless rain comes.
Today conservation groups have been given hope as the Environment Agency recognised this threat to our wildlife and offered help, through more flexible regulations of water use for key wetlands.
The Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB have all said that as well as relaxing some regulations it is important for us to do our bit at home too. By reducing our water use we can make sure there is more left in rivers, streams and ponds as home use has a direct impact on the water available for wildlife. Nature has an amazing ability to bounce back, but only if it has the resources to do so. As we see more and greater effects of climate change in our yearly cycles we must do all that we can to give nature and wildlife a strong chance of surviving and flourishing in the future.
So, turn off that tap, make sure washing machines have full loads and think whether you need to fill the kettle right up before boiling it. Otherwise we might be seeing forest fires, thousands of dying amphibians and Ratty (water voles) unable to find a save home from predators, let alone enough water for messing around in boats, as levels drop lower than ever before this summer.