The site water system is old, although this is belied by the appearance of the modern water tanks that were fitted by Thames Water a few years ago. Replacement of the tanks was deemed necessary due to concern by Thames Water that there could be backflow from the tanks into the fresh water supply. More tanks would have been ideal, but we have the number they were willing to fit.
For a number of years Derrick Martin, the Deputy Chairman, has lovingly coaxed the antiquated system along, shutting it down each autumn and persuading it back to life in the spring. Beneath our plots the water flows through a spider’s web of black plastic piping. It is not unheard of for these to be punctured by enthusiastic plot-diggers, and this is one of the things that Derrick checks each spring, early in the morning when only the early bird plot holders are there to see. Once Derrick has checked that the mains have survived the winter without incident he turns on the site supply, keeping the pressure low at first. It is only then that any leaks will be evident by the formation of a wet patch which could be anywhere on the site. This process has to take place slowly when the soil is dry so that any leaks become visible. An undetected leak will be the cause of a large water bill.
Water butts help to keep costs down and are a useful back-up for plot holders before the water is turned on at the start of each growing season. Any shed or greenhouse can have guttering fitted and the site has a supply of guttering and fixings available to anyone who would like to fit a water butt. Plots can then be fairly self-sufficient except during periods of dry weather. The photos show the possibilities - a bank of water butts on one plot and, on another, a row of ivy ‘sculptures’, each one enclosing a water butt.