Water, water everywhere – but not enough to drink?

It was a dark, cloud-crushed Bank Holiday Monday. A menacing, black thunderhead clung to the horizon, trailing gloomy layers of rain-heavy cloud. Then it started to rain. Soon thick bouncing blobs of water filled the sky as if someone had sliced open those oppressive, pregnant clouds.

Small streams began to form in the gutters, water rushed over the paths and into rapidly overfilling drains. I was soaked in seconds and engulfed in minutes. I made it to a bus shelter to escape the downpour to see a bus lurch past bearing a giant advert with a single, massive word: DROUGHT.

Against a backdrop of parched earth, Thames Water was telling a sodden London that we are officially in drought. Of course, a single day’s rain does not refill a water table that has been depleted by below average rainfall over the past two years. But it certainly made me wonder about the nature and history of drought in these rain swept, Atlantic islands.

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