What is it with water?

The magnetism of water. What is it that makes it appeal to so many people? If they love spending time by any river, they will even more want water to flow through their own property. What benefits come to mind when one thinks about this life-giving element?

To Drink - principally for livestock of course but increasingly landowners are installing private boreholes. Their motivation is independence from a mains service, 'free' water and perhaps the untreated taste of natural spring water. For animals of course water is

dalso essential for their welfare and growth; a private water supply may carry a significant capital cost factor - but metered mains water is nowadays quite an expense.

To Irrigate - to enhance the crops grown - arable or pasture, or specialist crops such as vegetables and soft fruit. In olden days, drainage channels, controlled by sluices, allowed natural irrigation by the local river. Nowadays, pumps and machinery are more the norm. With our unpredictable climate, a reliable source of water can be the difference between producing a crop or it failing = profit rather than loss. To Drain - to disperse surplus water, especially in times of heavy rainfall so that land and property is not flooded or rendered unusable. Maybe in the future in this country there will be specifically designed 'flood defences' which enable peak water to be spread over designated acres of land and not be hemmed in by man-made structures, that may cause water levels to rise abnormally in the wrong places. For Habitat - wildlife (flora and fauna) thrive near water. Certain species of animal, bird and plant are only found in such an environment - otters, water voles, fish, frogs, wild geese and duck, reeds, willows, marsh marigolds and many more. Some species are seasonal visitors which we would not see at all if there was no water. Others are permanent, but might suffer if their natural habitat is not preserved and maintained. For Sport - thousands of people enjoy fishing and shooting. With proper control, regulation and behaviour, this can be a benefit to the good maintenance and condition of rivers and streams. Water provides a source of food - both for animals and humans. For Transport - whether we are talking of rivers and canals or the high seas, and whether a journey has commercial, military, exploratory or leisure purpose, water provides the route and enables these various uses to thrive. For Amenity - how lucky we are to be able to walk alongside a river or stream, or along the coast. Waterways enable boating holidays and even today provide routes for commercial traffic. Artists produce their masterpieces, often taking water as their theme. The sight and sound of water gives relaxation and peace of mind.

For the Planet - the force of water has created great and small features around the world: Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, as well as a multitude of steep cliffs, oxbow lakes and islands.

The whole subject is fascinating and vast but even locally and on privately owned property, the value and appeal of water is constant. Whether you own the banks, the whole bed of the river or just the water, it is an asset that influences our lives in so many ways. The risk of pollution or excessive consumption needs to be avoided by wise management and respect, so we call all enjoy for ever the benefits we value and must not take for granted.

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