Barlow Nurseries

Growers of trees, shrubs and hardy herbaceous perennial garden plants near Newport, Shropshire

Aquifer action

We’ve been anxiously watching the Environment Agency’s water situation reports for ages now. Back in March when it hadn’t rained much for the best part of 2 years, we were getting seriously worried about just how much water there was in the aquifer which supplies our borehole.

The Environment Agency were worried too – they started publishing their water reports weekly rather than monthly, and it became a ritual for us to look at the graph showing our aquifer water levels, and then wonder where all that rain was going. Because although we’ve had a huge amount of rain this year, groundwater levels around here have been stubbornly refusing to respond.

But finally, we have an upward spike!

Finally, an upward spike!

Environment Agency information © Environment Agency

The EA have now reverted to monthly reports, and this is the latest graph for the nearest recording station to us. It actually looks rather more lively than the weekly graphs did – stretching the horizontal axis to accomodate weekly updates flattened the curve considerably. But you can see from this that the water level under our feet is still probably no more than 12 inches higher than it was in the spring. And it’s still in the pink “exceptionally low” sector – disappointingly, one of only 2 sites across the country that still languishes in that category.

It’s all down to the bedrock of course – our aquifer is sandstone, and it evidently takes AGES for water to percolate through it. While our water level graph flatlined through the summer, chalk aquifers in other parts of the country had graphs like roller coasters.

But onward and downward! As the text books will tell you, once the surface vegetation growth rate slows, and the trees lose their leaves in autumn, there’s much less to divert rainwater from the call of gravity, and the aquifers fill faster – which is pretty much what this graph is suggesting. Or maybe its just taken that long for the spring deluges to start showing through. Either way, it’s got to be good news.

It’s bucketing down outside right now; yesterday we had enough rain to cause (yet another) minor flood on the nursery (but in a recently cleared area, thankfully) so we’re looking forward to the graph breaking through to just being “low” next month!

And if you’re paying enough attention to be wondering what mAOD on the graphs vertical axis stands for, it’s ‘metres Above Ordnance Datum’ – the aquifer water levels are measured in metres above sea level, and the ordnance datum in this case is sea level at Newlyn in Cornwall.

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