Bring the rain

GUTTER POLITICS: It's easy to run off at the mouth about water storage, but we should be shouting it from the roof.
GUTTER POLITICS: It's easy to run off at the mouth about water storage, but we should be shouting it from the roof.

Water storage is a hot topic every time we have a drought, and most experts recommend you don’t do  it in the roof cavity, unless you’ve got really good insurance.

But inundation can happen, and when the dry briefly broke in the Hunter recently, and the gutters were blocked, that pretty much sums up what happened.  

The BOM had been reluctant to call it a drought (although my lawn would beg to differ) because like so many things these day, you don’t call them what they are.

The BOM instead cited  a “one-in-20-year rainfall deficiency”, which is apparently great if you're a Hunter Valley wine maker, but disastrous if you’re a dairy farmer.

Either way, you never miss the water till the well runs dry, or  the Sir Walter Raleigh carks it.

It highlights the Goldilocks relationship we have with rain: we don’t like floods, we don’t like  rainfall deficiencies, we like it juuust right so we can wash the car on the formerly healthy front lawn without rebuke.

But it seems just wrong when it finally does rain, and you haven’t cleared the  gutters. That “once-in-20-year  deficiency” is now a “once-in-10-minute  sufficiency”. In fact, it’s threatening to become a “I don’t think the gazebo roof can handle it” type “move the barbecue” crisis.

Which gets us back to water storage. The thing about precipitation is that once it rains, it’s all downhill from there, sometimes to the roof cavity.

Many politicians  take that as a pointer for policy direction,  underlining the gravity of the situation, and its true  the Murray-Darling debate does seem to show water scarcity is nearly as prevalent  as poor management, when it doesn’t rain.

But when it does, it’s amazing how much water that doesn't run into your roof cavity, runs off it. And how easy it would be to store if only you’d installed those tanks you bought from Aldi last year.

Of course, you hadn’t: they’d  laid around the back yard, empty,  drawing attention to your “gonna do that one day” DIY skills.  

Then, during the recent deluge, a downpipe shook loose  revealing just how accessible water is if you position tanks near downpipes.

To my not so great astonishment, they filled up in about 10 minutes, during a mere drizzle.

My mind boggled thereafter  at the water storing potentials when it really started to flog down and the water Niagara-ed off my blocked gutters. I shouldn’t just  give a damn, I thought, I should build one.

Leaving me to contemplate just how much non-harvested urban rainwater flows back to the sea every time it rains, and why household storage isn’t encouraged more.

The answer is obvious of course, we’re soft … I mean we’re on town water.

But when you look at farmers struggling on the land, or people lining up for drinking water in Cape Town, or ultimate horror, restrictions on watering your lawn, you start to think we should stop rubbing it in the faces of the thirsty.

Tanks for nothing? I don’t think so.