This is the fourteenth day without water on our farm.
The supply yielded a small amount yesterday but that quickly went off again and despite having written to the estate to ask why we have no water, I have not received a reply. So much for the promises of improved communication from the CEO of the Scottish Land and Estates and the estate representative when they sat at our kitchen table.
The situation here is that the supply which has fed the farm since 1890 has ceased. The farm is fed from a reservoir and shares a pipe with a large public school. The public school have embarked on an improved water supply system and it would appear to me that they may know something about the cessation of our farm supply....
The deal was made in 1948 that the school would be allowed to lay a pipe through our farm on the condition that the farm would receive water. This permission was given by the landowner and the tenant farmer had no input into the agreement.
Given the disruption to our crops by an ancient pipe system bursting (or being burst by estate plumbers smashing our pipe with mechanical diggers), the sensible solution would be to replace the pipes along the roadside thus it would make access easier plus it is a shorter distance.
But this would involve common sense - something I find lacking in certain elements around here.
The genius solution the estate came up with was to pump raw water from the little burn, top up the local community holding tank with said burn water and from what I can glean, divert some of the water to the big public school. I mention that my understanding of this is limited due to lack of clear information from the estate.
Further up the burn lie the carcasses of sheep which have died over previous winters. There are pheasant carcasses in the burn too.
A boil water notice has been advised but the practicalities and expense of boiling a lot of water, for example for a bath are impractical. Most people have showers and have discovered that the raw water has damaged the showers given the amount of sediment and solids plus how do you boil water for a shower? You still ingest the water, skin being the largest organ in the human body. Try brushing your teeth with a tub of boiled and cooled water. Try reminding your children that taps are not for drinking water. Try telling children who have learning difficulties not to drink or bathe in the raw water.
I was heartened to read that the Scottish government have pledged an enormous sum of money for overseas aid to assist those suffering health issues due to lack of sanitation and clean water as well as other issues.
I ask that they also take into consideration, the communities in their own country who are also experiencing difficulties due to a lack of clean water plus the constraints of being reliant on an estate who owns the water, charges for the water yet who are incapable of supplying this most basic human resource to those who need a clean, potable, reliable drinking supply.
The alternative is to drill a borehole but the permission of the landowner is required. Given that the landowner collects quite a considerable sum in council rated water charges from each household, I somehow doubt permission would be granted.
The cost of a borehole is between £6,500 and £10,000 and considering the geography of this area plus the fact it lies on a major fault line, there is no shortage of underground water. Several owner/occupier farms have sunk boreholes and have had no issues at all with either supply or quality.
People are afraid to ask permission in case their supplies 'dry up' - just like the farm supply has 'dried up'. I don't know about you but I have issues at having to ask permission to spend a small fortune on sinking a borehole to improve our quality of life, especially when it would end up being considered as a landlord's improvement.
I suspect that our community is not the only one facing such a nightmare as there are roughly 100,000 people on private water supplies (probably owned by a handful of landowners).
Have you visited an area served by private water? Have you ingested putrified sheep/ pheasant carcass? Have your children paddled in burns which may harbour cryptosporidium, Ecoli, etc? Has anyone spread human faeces in the surrounding fields?
In an odd way, our having no water supply is probably safer than being supplied with raw burn water however, we honestly do not know how we can provide water for our livestock when we bring them into the sheds for winter soon. Are we being forced to sell our herd of cattle and flock of sheep due to lack of provision of water? Are we being driven out by drought? It looks like it to me except we are not leaving. No intention of giving up no matter how much the estate tries to harass or make life difficult.
The law itself needs changed but it appears nobody who can change it is listening. Until then, we are at the mercy of the landowners.
God help us.