Water saving advice from Affinity as we head into winter

Autumn and winter is the time when the chalk aquifer recharges as increased rain, reduced evaporation and lower demands from vegetation allow water to saturate the soil and feed down to the aquifer below.

Affinity water are bringing this to the attention of their customers and stakeholders, in anticipation of possible hosepipe bans in the Spring of 2020 and have shared the advice and water saving suggestions below. They are also looking to engage with the public and FORQ will be taking that opportunity along with other Hertfordshire River Groups in pressing them to hear their plans for the future.

Our Central region is in drought

Above average rain will be needed this autumn and winter for water resource situation to improve

We welcomed the rain in late September in our Central region, which was above the long-term average at 137%.

However, following nearly three years of below average rainfall our Central region is in drought. Groundwater levels are still well below average and a few good weeks of rain is not enough to make up for this.

This means we may need to introduce temporary water restrictions (also known as hosepipe bans) in spring 2020 if we do not get above average rainfall this autumn and winter.

We have now entered the recharge season, which is when rain is more likely to filter down into the aquifer (porous rock where groundwater is stored). This period usually runs from October to March. However, soils were drier than average in September and any rain that falls will first need to saturate the soil before filtering down to the aquifer, potentially delaying recharge of groundwater.

In September, we launched an extensive campaign through direct customer emails, social media and traditional media to ensure customers are fully aware of the situation. This resulted in over 4,000 orders for water saving devices in just 24 hours and we would like to thank customers for their support in saving water.

We will continue to update customers as the situation progresses and in November, we will engage with customers to get their views to ensure they are fully prepared if restrictions need to be introduced in spring 2020.

We would appreciate that you share our message by following us on Twitter @affinitywater or Facebook /affinitywater and linking to our page at www.affinitywater.co.uk/resources    

Our central region, where drought conditions are in place includes Hertfordshire, West Essex and parts of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and North London.

Beat the chill

With winter approaching, we are asking stakeholders and customers to ensure they are ready to prevent freezing pipes this winter.

Any homes and businesses left empty are particularly at risk and should be protected against

possible freezing and bursts.

The simple actions below will make a big difference once temperatures start dropping:

•      Insulate outside taps and exposed water pipes in lofts and outside

•      Insulate cold water tanks

•      Check that external and internal stop taps are working so supplies can be turned off in an emergency

•      If it’s very cold outside leave central heating on a low setting overnight

•      If leaving homes and business unattended for a long period, turn off the water supply at the stop tap. Consider leaving the heating on a low setting

•      Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can lead to a frozen pipe.

For more information and videos about coping with cold weather visit: www.affinitywater.co.uk/coldweather

Water is not part of the climate change debate.

It is treated like an add on when it is critical to life. We need this to change now.

#WhyNotWater is a campaign to fuel a national debate to ensure water conservation is at the heart of our actions and behaviour.

Why should we act?

·       Climate change is likely to reduce our supply of water in our area by 39 million litres of water per day by 2080.

·       The population is growing and is expected to increase 51% by 2080. This is equivalent to approximately 1.8 million more people in our supply area, putting further strain on our resources.

·       Using water wisely is critical in the South East – a severely water-stressed area; did you know there was less rainfall than other parts of the country? Between July 2016 and April 2017 the area received 33% less rainfall than the national average.

·       Customers in the South East also use more water daily – 152 litres per person per day, which is higher than the national average of 141 litres per person per day.

We want

1.       Mandatory water efficiency labelling – labelling is currently rolled out in Australia, California, China and many other countries, so why not the UK? Labelling is also mandatory for energy, so #WhyNotWater?

1.       Tenants should have the right to use water efficient goods – landlords must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) by law, with financial penalties if they do not. Private tenants also have the rights to request that their landlord installs energy efficient measures – why can’t the same standards be implemented for water?

1.       Domestic water efficiency through fittings and fixtures through mandatory certification – there is considerable potential to improve water efficiency use by households if changes are made to fixture and fittings through mandatory certification approvals.

1.       Every local plan in a severely water stressed area should include the target of 110 litres per person per day.

We are urging you and the communities you serve to support our #WhyNotWater manifesto to demand key changes in legislation and policy to empower people to save water, energy and help conserve the natural environment.

Please support our campaign by signing and sharing our petition at www.affinitywater.co.uk/ourpetition

To find out more about our campaign, please visit www.whynotwater.co.uk

We are sending you this information as a key stakeholder in the area we serve. If you would prefer not to receive this monthly water resources update please respond to this email address with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.

Yours faithfully

Graham Turk
Director of Production and Supply
Affinity Water

Mammal Mapper

We were recently passed details of a new app available for smartphones produced by The Mammal Society called Mammal Mapper.

The free app can be used as a resource to view pictures and information on the mammals found in the UK but it is a recording device that it really comes into it’s own, allowing the user to take photographs and record the location of mammals or their tracks and signs in the countryside, with the data being collected to build a picture of species distribution at a nationwide level. The app has the facility to record one off sightings, but also to record repeatedly from the same route, building a year-round data set of your local patch, dog-walking route or even walk to work.

FORQ will be promoting this app along with other Citizen Science projects as we help to build a picture of the habitats and wildlife of the Rib and Quin Valleys. Further details from The Mammal Society website are posted below, with links to where you can download the app.

What is Mammal Mapper?

Mammal Mapper is a FREE app that has been designed to enable you to record signs and sightings of mammals in the UK. Mammals can be recorded along a route whilst you’re walking/running/cycling or even a passenger in a car, or as one off sightings, for example a hedgehog in your garden.  

Why do I need this in my life?

You can enjoy building a library of the mammals you have spotted whilst contributing towards scientific research and mammal conservation. The Mammal Mapper app is very easy to use, and includes detailed guides to help you identify the mammal and/or field signs, such as footprints and droppings, that you have seen. Afterwards, you can look back and remember what interesting wildlife you encountered and where!

Mammal Mapping can be great as a family activity or something to think about when you’re walking the dog, even if you walk the same route every day. Some days you might find signs of mammal activity and some you won’t, and the same route will be different in terms of food sources and habitat availability at different times of year. This means that you can turn everyday activities into dedicated surveys akin to ecological surveyors.

As well as recording what mammals you’ve seen, if you’re recording a journey with the app then it will also record where you’ve been and how far you have travelled. “As an avid hill walker, I love how I can record my walks. As well as understanding what mammals I have seen, I like to know how far and for how long I walked. Seeing a detailed map of my past excursions is great!” – Frazer Coomber, Science Officer at the Mammal Society.

The benefit to us

Once you have submitted your records they will be verified and centrally collated. This will help us to build up a picture of where there are mammals and where there aren’t. So, even if you don’t see any mammals we’d still like to know!

Why this is important

Most wild mammals, including rabbits and iconic species like hedgehogs and mountain hares, are very poorly monitored. This makes it difficult to know which regions or habitats are most important for them, or to detect changes in their ranges and population sizes. As such, all of the records that you submit through the app are very important in helping us to understand the distribution, abundance and conservation status of British mammals.

However, the main advantage of Mammal Mapper is the ability to record where you are looking for animals, or “effort”. This is incredibly important as it provides information about where people are recording and more importantly, where animals are absent. In the past, it has been difficult to understand if gaps in records are caused by a true absence in animals at those locations, or if it is simply an artefact one of nobody recording in those areas. In addition, the inclusion of “effort” provides the ability for researchers to calculate the density of animals. These important biological data are necessary to estimate the total population of a species and understand its conservation status.

As outlined above the inclusion of effort can greatly increase our understanding of British mammals, but all records are important so even if you are not recording a route please report any sightings, even if they are one offs!

How do I get hold of the Mammal Mapper?

If you’re using your phone to view this page, simply click on one of the above links to the App Store or Google Play and follow the instructions. Otherwise, from your device, open up the App Store or Google Play and search for Mammal Mapper.

How do I use it?

From the home screen, you can either “Start Survey” to record mammals along a route or “Report a Sighting” to record one-off sightings. Routes must be recorded in real-time, so as you are walking/cycling etc., whereas one-off sightings can also be recorded after the event by changing the location, date and time when entering the sighting.

When conducting a survey, the app will track your journey so all you have to do is keep an eye out for mammals and the signs that they leave behind. Once the app is running, you can even just leave your phone in your pocket. If you do see a mammal or sign, simply add a sighting using the ‘Add Sighting’ button, and the app will guide you through the recording process one step at a time. The final part is to save and then submit the record to us. If you can’t submit the record whilst you’re out, simply save it and submit it later when you have WiFi.

If you are not recording a route but see a mammal, say in your garden or running across the road, you can record it with the “Report a Sighting” option. If you didn’t have your phone on you at the time or were driving then don’t worry as the app allows past sightings to be entered!

More detailed information on how to use the app can be found on the app itself under ‘More’ and then ‘Tour Guide’.Video Player00:0000:55


FAQs

How do I download Mammal Mapper?

If you’re using your phone to view this page, simply click on one of the above links to the App Store or Google Play and follow the instructions. Otherwise, from your device, open up the App Store or Google Play and search for Mammal Mapper.

How do I use it?

When opening the app you will see the Home Screen (see image):

You have the option to either:

  1. “Start Survey” if you are going on a journey where you can safely use your phone and wish to record the mammals you see along the route.

OR

  1. “Report a Sighting” if you wish to record a one-off sighting of a live or dead mammal, or a mammal sign (such as droppings, den, feeding remains, hair or a print).

A few things to note:

For the app to work, you will have to give the app permission to use your location. If you are unable to submit your route or individual record whilst out and about, you can save it and submit it later on. In all cases, you have the option to take and submit a photo of the sighting, which can also be saved to your device’s camera roll. To activate or deactivate the saving of photos from the app, go to ‘More’, ‘Settings’ and check/uncheck the ‘Save Photos to Gallery’ option.

How does Mammal Mapper differ from Mammal Tracker?

Briefly, Mammal Tracker was designed to enable people to record and submit one off (opportunistic) sightings of mammals only, whereas we created Mammal Mapper to track the route travelled by people whilst they are looking for mammals and field signs.

The latter has the added benefit of showing where there are absences of mammal signs and sightings. The updated Mammal Mapper simply brings together the capabilities of both Tracker and Mapper into one app, meaning Tracker will slowly be phased out. There are also some great additional, such as the inclusion of mammal identification guides.  

What do I do if I already have Mammal Mapper and want to upgrade to the new version?

For most current Mammal Mapper users, the update will be automatic. However, if you still have the old version you should first check the App Store/Google Play for updates, and failing that, delete the app and download the new version. You will need to log in again, but if using your previous user details, the app will remember you.

What do I do if I still have Mammal Tracker?

Mammal Tracker will eventually be phased out as its functionality is now incorporated into the new Mammal Mapper App. All Mammal Tracker users who have submitted a mammal record in the past should receive an email from the Biological Records Centre to inform them of this change. If you wish to continue to record your mammal sightings, you need to download the new Mammal Mapper.

How is the Mammal Mapper different to other biological recording apps?

Firstly, Mammal Mapper is only for recording mammals, but the main advantage of Mammal Mapper over most other biological recording apps is the ability to record where you are looking for animals, or “effort”. This is incredibly important as it provides information about where people are recording and more importantly, where animals are absent. In the past, it has been difficult to understand if gaps in records are caused by a true absence in animals at those locations, or if it is simply an artefact one of nobody recording in those areas.

In addition, the inclusion of “effort” provides the ability for researchers to calculate the density of animals. This is important biological data that is necessary to estimate the total population of a species and understand its conservation status.

As outlined above the inclusion of effort can greatly increase our understanding of British mammals, but all records are important so even if you are not recording a route please report any sightings, even if they are one offs!

Where does my data go?

All records of sightings and signs, be it one offs or associated with a route will join the nationwide database of citizen science records at the NBN and the BRC, where they will be verified by expert county recorders.

Can I use Mammal Mapper if I have no reception or on a tablet?

Yes, Mammal Mapper uses your device’s inbuilt GPS, meaning you can use it in areas with no phone reception. Your surveys and sightings will be stored in the App and can later be submitted when you are home with WiFi or when you have data.

Who do I contact if I have a query about the Mammal Mapper?

You can email us at science@themammalsociety.org or to get in touch via Twitter search for @MammalMapperApp.

Android | iOS

Harvest Festival at St Mary’s

It was a pleasure to be able to contribute a local wildlife soundscape for to the harvest festival at St Mary’s, Standon this last weekend and I am indebted to Rev. John for weaving Friends of the Rib & Quin into his sermon and directing the congregation towards our group.

The species, in order of appearance in the recording are;
Muntjac deer – Plashes Wood 0230hrs, May 2019
Song thrush and dawn chorus 0400hrs, May 2019
Common toads – Plashes Farm pond, near Colliers End, February 2016
Nightingale – Minsmere, Suffolk, May 2017
Greenfinch – Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, May 2017
Raven – Barwick, October 2018
Daubenton’s Bat – Barwick Ford, 2200hrs, August 2019
Fallow Deer buck – Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, 1930hrs, October 2018
Tawny Owl pair, Barwick, April 2019

All these species are present in the valley, with the probable exception of the nightingale, which I haven’t been able to find locally yet but live in hope. Perhaps notably missing is the cuckoo, which I haven’t been able to record here either, though individuals can still be heard each spring, more likely passing through than staying in the valleys. To truly enjoy the sound of the cuckoo, a trip further into East Anglia is to be highly recommended and to prove the point, here is a recording of Lakenheath Fen from May 2016 that includes cuckoos, bittern and more and perhaps gives a flavour of the sound of the wetter areas of our local landscape in the past.

If you have enjoyed these recordings and would like to hear more, have a look at The Badgers Eye – Soundscapes where you can listen to longer recordings I have collected from the local area and further afield.

MW

Environmental Drought In Hertfordshire and North London

Below is text and links of an email received 1 October from the Environment Agency regarding environmental drought in Hertfordshire

Dear all,

There are a number of complex factors which help indicate what Drought status we are in (Normal, Prolonged Dry Weather, Drought, Severe Drought or Recovering Drought). With so many terms and phrases used, we had sought not to subcategorise each Drought status. The experience over this summer has shown that with improved resilience in the water supply network there is a greater likelihood of environmental impact before drought measures are enacted. We are now working on a series of triggers that can be robustly used to highlight the challenges to the environment. This has not prevented Environment Agency staff from undertaking actions to manage the current situation and responding to particular drought incidents.

We have continued to review our Drought triggers using information provided by many of you, as a result the Environment Agency’s Hertfordshire and North London area is in an Environmental Drought.

We are taking action to encourage water companies to promote the importance of saving water to their customers.

We have informed local Members of Parliament and Councils of the situation, asking them to support messages on reducing water consumption in the long and short term.

We ask everyone to reduce their day to day usage and to make extra effort to conserve water over the coming months to protect rivers and water supplies. Every litre of water we save is a litre supporting our rivers and wildlife.

We have published a blog explaining the current situation and what we’re doing in response. You can read it at https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2019/10/01/environmental-drought-in-hertfordshire-and-north-london/.

Thank you for your continued commitment to your local environment and we hope to continue to work closely with you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us at Drought.HNL@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Kind Regards

Area Environment Manager – Land and Water
Environment Agency, Hertfordshire and North London