An issue we have been grappling with over the last month has been what to do about the water supply to the house.

The plumber discovered that the water pressure was very low. Wessex water confirmed this to be the case and replaced the main stopcock which was faulty, however this had no real impact on water flow. They are now considering replacing the pipe between the stopcock and the village to see if that will improve the flow at that point. However, the pipe from the stopcock to the house, which appears to run under the lane, is my responsibility. I did check this with OFWAT as the water meter is at the house but they confirmed that any pipe beyond the stopcock is the householder’s responsibility.

This is one of the prices for living in the country in a residence that is semi rural. The distance from the stopcock to the house is over 300 meters and replacing the pipe will involve getting permission to close the lane, causing disruption to neighbours who use it and no little expense to ourselves.

However “It’s an ill wind that blows no good” as they say and this got us thinking about whether we might be able to have an independent water supply. There is a stream running by the side of the house and as we are at the base of a valley of hills so we know there is a lot of water coming down towards the house.

Enter Adrian from ON-TAP SERVICES: He advised that drawing water from the stream was not possible as it was open and we had no control over what went into it up stream. However he did think that a Borehole might be feasible. He arranged a Geological survey for us which showed there is a 95% chance of us getting a good supply of potable water.

Adrian then passed us on to Steve from ORCHARD DRILLING who arrived with his dousing sticks to survey the site further. It was fascinating to watch him walk around the garden and observe the sticks moving independently as he approached suitable locations. I of course could not resist the opportunity to have a go and after a couple of minutes of wandering around the rods moved for me. I was delighted, though Phil the main contractor was less enchanted referring to me as a Witch and moving rapidly away!

This put me in mind of the many water and sanitation projects I have seen over my career. Water is a commodity we can so easily take for granted in the so-called “developed world” but in many countries there are still many communities that do not have the luxury of even a standpipe in the street, let alone running hot and cold water in the home. For these communities fetching and carrying water is a daily demanding task – one that often falls to women and children. And even then there is no guarantee that the water will be free of pollutants from animals and humans.

There has rightly been extensive investment in water and sanitation schemes around the world and they bring great benefits. But what is less evident is investment in water conservation and management both here and abroad. It is a finite resource which we take so greatly for-granted, only beginning to realise its limits when the inevitable annual hosepipe bans are introduced after a few weeks of sun. But we need to be more mindful of how we use this resource and what a privilege it is for us to have it.

I know that when Mark and I are on Mary Murray, our Ketch in the Caribbean, we are much more mindful about using water as we rely on tanks on board and it can be difficult to get to shore to fill them up. It is always quite stressful when visitors first arrive on board trying to explain to them how to manage this scarce resource and watching them adapt to “small, small showers” and mindful use of taps. Fortunately most of the taps on board work off foot pedals so that in itself helps to make people aware of their usage.

Meanwhile back in Dorset we have taken the leap of faith and asked for a borehole to be drilled. This will not happen until early 2020 as Steve is fully booked till then so there will be some nervous weeks as we wait to see if the report was correct and water “soon comes”. In the interim I will be brushing off some of the water ceremonies I have witnessed over the years in different parts of the world, as who knows they may come in useful.