- OK, so the downpours experienced in Suffolk and Essex over the past weeks have nothing on the floods of 1953. There has thankfully been, at least in this region, no loss of life and damage to property has so far been small.
But the rain and flash floods have been dangerous, creating hazardous driving conditions and causing delays and consternation through closed roads and diversions.
- But the main talking point is not the rainfall or the floods themselves. There is a sense of incredulity that as apparently endless amounts of the wet stuff fall from the sky, the region is still officially in a drought.
- The criticisms that have been levelled at Anglian Water are understandable. Water bills have been creeping up as steadily as the capacity of the region's reservoirs and many blame wastage and bad management for our current woes. There is also, perhaps, a lingering suspicion of privatised utility firms being in control of what is, at the end of the day, a naturally occurring substance.
- But these complaints, although unstandable and worthy of further inspection, don't mean Anglian Water should shoulder the blame for a drought that happens to coincide with unusually heavy rain. The truth of the matter is that the situation is one that chimes with our complex sensibility of "Britishness"; combining a hatred of red tape and bureacracy with a fascination with the weather (of which we have, in reality, very little of note.)
- It is this sensibility that beleagured press officers at Anglian Water are now dealing with on a daily basis. And their answer that more rain over many more weeks is needed to ease the water shortage caused by a dry winter is supported by independent experts. As Jamie Hannaford from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology explained, rain is stored more easily in winter, soaking through softened earth into groundwater stores. It is thought about 7cm of rain is needed just to "wet" up the ground before a restore can take place.
- Of course, none of this is as much fun as having a good old moan.