Continuing my due diligence regarding the current “astonishingly low” water level in Colliford Reservoir I’ve been searching for hints on South West Water’s recently announced plans for two new desalination plants on the south coast of Cornwall. I’ve been poring over their draft Water Resources Management Plan (dWRMP for short) for 2024, which I downloaded quite some time ago. It’s a hefty document, but given the recent media frenzy about possible desalination plants in Cornwall I’ve been over it with the proverbial fine tooth comb. I eventually discovered the information I was searching for in the last place I looked.
Chapter 8 on “Supply-Side Option Development” seemed the best place to start. It had this to say:
The potential addition of repurposed mines and quarries and desalination as supply side options for our SWW WRZs are being developed in response to the current (2022) drought. At this time, no specific options can be included within our feasible list. Work is ongoing and we envisage options will be progressed to a stage where they can be included in our approach by the time of our Statement of Response. Refer to Annex C of this Chapter for more information on our considerations on the use of desalination as part of our revised dWRMP.
It’s getting late in the County of Cornwall, so I’ll be brief to begin with. Much more from me in due course, but for now I’ll merely mention that yesterday I was interviewed by BBC reporter Kirk England on top of the Colliford Reservoir dam. You can read all about that in another Davidstow.info article, catchily entitled “Where has the water in Colliford Lake gone?“. That one is also a work in progress, so I have a fair bit of catching up to do.
Not only that, but also on the previous Monday I was interviewed by ITV reporter Grace Pascoe about a rather different environmental issue. You can read all about that in an article catchily entitled “How long does it take for Truth to pull her boots on?”. That one is also a work in progress, so I have a lot of catching up to do!
In case you’re wondering, the common thread here is the way information is distorted as it moves in fits and starts across the world wide interweb. Chinese whispers if you prefer, but I prefer the term “truth decay”. In todays initially brief example, Kirk’s article on the BBC web site about the abnormally low water level in Colliford Lake included this extract of our recent conversation:
Environmental campaigner Jim Hunt from Davidstow, near Camelford, has been monitoring reservoir levels – including at Colliford – for the last few years and said the level was “astonishingly low”.
“It rained hard over winter, with a very dry February and now Cornwall’s biggest reservoir is half-full,” he said.
The reservoir level at Colliford is “astonishingly low” according to environmental activist Jim Hunt of Davidstow, near Camelford, who has been keeping tabs on reservoir levels for the past few years.
Cornwall’s largest reservoir is only about halfway full, he said, because of the heavy rainfall experienced throughout the winter and the unusually dry conditions in February. “Where’s the water gone?”
The article led with this artistic mashup of my very own visage with an aerial view of Colliford Lake and the suggestion that “Desalination ‘could provide third of county’s water'”:
I suddenly find myself strangely schizophrenic. Is “Jim Hunt” an “activist” or a “campaigner” or both? And does “Kirk England” have an alter ego called “Kelly James”?
[Edit – March 8th]
I’ll have to stop Googling at bed time. It’s bad for my health. Tonight I discovered an allegedly “exclusive” report about South West Water’s plans to construct two desalination plants on the south coast of Cornwall. Google linked me to an article on inews, a mainstream media organisation which claims to be “For Open Minds“. Allegedly:
inews.co.uk is the UK’s most trusted news brand, according to data from industry auditor PAMCo. We’re proudly independent and have no agenda when it comes to political disputes – but we won’t hesitate to call out injustice or wrongdoing when we see it, no matter who’s doing it.
Our coverage of the news doesn’t stop at the headline, but digs deep with people-focused stories that reveal the truth of life in the UK, explainers that make politics plain, and vibrant coverage of social and cultural talking points.
More than a third of Cornwall’s drinking water could come from desalination if plans for two plants go ahead, South West Water said.
The two plants planned for Cornwall’s south coast will provide around 60 million litres a day. Cornwall uses 170 million litres of water in a 24-hour period, meaning more than a third of its water could come from the desalination plants.
South West Water is yet to disclose the two locations for the plants, but admitted they would not be ready by the time tourist numbers begin to rise significantly over Easter or by the time hundreds of thousands flock to the country each month during the summer holidays.
A spokesman for South West Water said: “We are working towards having plants operational by the end of summer 2023 and are working closely with the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council to achieve this challenging target.
The thing is David, I’d already established that fact long before you “tweeted” your “exclusive”. At 9:46 AM on March 7th to be precise:
As you can see, I’d also managed to dig out an “exclusive” of my very own. As I drift off to sleep with the rain pattering on the window I cannot help but wonder:
How do mainstream media “Chief News Correspondents” go about doing their due diligence in this day and age?
[Edit – March 9th]
After a fitful night’s sleep I woke early by my standards. I decide to experiment with Bing’s shiny new “AI powered” search engine. I eagerly typed in “Jim Hunt Davidstow” (without the quotes) and pressed “enter”.
Top of the image search was this excellent portrait of me:
Page 1 of Bing’s search results looked like this above the fold:
Despite the very wet Autumn here in the wild and woolly West Country, South West Water still have a “hosepipe ban” in place across Cornwall. The automated rainfall gauge 49104 at Colliford Lake reveals that there has been very little rainfall in the area for the last three weeks:
As a consequence of that, the water level in Cornwall’s largest reservoir is now still below 50% and decreasing:
I have just returned from a meeting between numerous residents of Davidstow Parish and representatives of Saputo Dairy UK, the Environment Agency and the Davidstow Parish Council. The meeting was chaired by Rob Rotchell, the current Mayor of Camelford, and despite Rob’s best efforts it became quite heated at times!
For the benefit of new readers I should perhaps point out that last summer a UK Government press release stated that:
Dairy Crest Limited, owned by Saputo Dairy UK, and its management of the Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, north Cornwall, has been falling way short of the standards expected by the Environment Agency when it comes to the company’s management of liquid waste, odour and environmental reporting…
Dairy Crest, which produces brands such as Cathedral City at its Davidstow plant, previously pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 charges brought by the Environment Agency. For committing this catalogue of offences, the firm was fined £1.52 million at the crown court on 23 June 2022.
Here’s one of my relatively recent pictures of Davidstow Creamery, so that you can get an idea of the size of their local operation:
Although not yet shown on the SAS map the Environment Agency’s bathing water quality map suggests not going surfing today at our local big beach break:
In related news here is this morning’s graph of the pound/dollar exchange rate:
It seems everything is going down the pan simultaneously here in Kernow, under the current Government in Westminster. Except bankers’ bonuses in the City of London of course! According to the Guardian:
The City watchdog is being urged to investigate whether leaks of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget allowed billionaire hedge fund investors to make “small fortunes” by betting against the pound.
Tulip Siddiq, the shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said the Financial Conduct Authority needed to determine whether it was possible for traders to have used insider information to benefit from the crashing currency.
The pound fell to an all-time low of $1.03 against the dollar overnight on Monday before recovering lost ground amid speculation that the Bank of England would raise interest rates to shore up the economy.
Perhaps we need our own currency here in Kernow? Bring back the dynar!
[Edit – October 3rd]
This news comes from the south coast of Cornwall, but according to their Facebook page the GyllyngvaseSurf Life Saving Club’s Endless Summer Swim event on Sunday was postponed for a week:
Unfortunately due to the deluge of rain yesterday, we have a sewage alert on the beach and with another wave of wet weather due for the morning, we have decided to postpone until next Sunday This year has felt like we’ve had constant alerts on the beach so please South West Water can you take responsibility and do something about it?
[Edit – October 22nd]
There’s been a fair bit of rain in these parts recently. Here’s the NetWeather.tv rain radar from yesterday morning for example:
Hence it doesn’t come as a big surprise that this morning several beaches on the North coast of Cornwall are yet again suffering sewage pollution according to the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map:
[Edit – October 28th]
After an all too brief respite from sewage pollution incidents along the coast of North Cornwall, this morning there has been a discharge at Widemouth Sand, our local big beach break:
There have also been incidents at Seaton and Millandreath on the south coast. Further south still, at Long Rock “sewer systems in this location are under maintenance and the water company has temporarily disabled real-time alerts”
As the weeks have passed the answer to that question seems increasingly likely to be “Yes”. Hence we’ll begin August 2022 with the current water levels of Cornish reservoirs provided by the South West Lakes Trust:
As you can see the water levels in both Colliford and Stithians reservoirs are already below their lowest levels last year. Colliford is also well below its level at the beginning of August 1995, a particularly dry year for Cornwall and other parts of the United Kingdom.
The environmental performance of Dairy Crest Limited has been unacceptable for too long and needs to significantly improve, says the Environment Agency.
Dairy Crest Limited, owned by Saputo Dairy UK, and its management of the Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, north Cornwall, has been falling way short of the standards expected by the Environment Agency when it comes to the company’s management of liquid waste, odour and environmental reporting, Truro Crown Court heard.
Ever since the site changed production to focus on whey processing, particularly to produce powder used in baby milk and other products, the effluent being discharged into the River Inny has been more challenging to treat. This has resulted in unacceptable pollution of the local river, which is a tributary of the River Tamar, causing significant harm to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Another issue has been foul odours which have often affected the lives of local residents.
Dairy Crest, which produces brands such as Cathedral City at its Davidstow plant, previously pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 charges brought by the Environment Agency. For committing this catalogue of offences, the firm was fined £1.52 million at the crown court on 23 June 2022. It had already agreed to pay costs of £272,747…
The offences included:
Releasing a harmful biocide, used to clean the wastewater tanks and pipework, into the river and killing thousands of fish over a 2 kilometre stretch on 16 August 2016.
Coating the River Inny with a noxious, black sludge for 5 kilometres in 2018, through a release of a mass of suspended solids in July and August 2018.
Consistently exceeding limits on substances like phosphorous and suspended solids entering the River Inny, from 2016 up to 2021.
Numerous leaks of part-treated effluent into nearby watercourses and onto the land.
Foul odours repeatedly affecting residents over many years.
Failing to tell the Environment Agency within 24 hours of when things had gone significantly wrong on site, on 7 separate occasions.
Do you suppose that as a result of the court case the lives of the long suffering residents of Davidstow will no longer be blighted by “foul odours” and “unacceptable pollution of the local river“, not to mention the light and noise pollution as well?
This Flood Alert remains in force. Flooding is possible this afternoon and overnight into Thursday 30th December. Last night’s rain has caused river levels to rise and we expect these to remain high throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow morning. This may result in flooding to low lying land and roads close to rivers this afternoon and overnight into Thursday morning 30th December. However, flooding to properties is not currently expected. Take care near the areas of concern and monitor your local weather conditions. We are monitoring river levels and have staff in the area checking for and clearing blockages. This message will be updated on Thursday morning or earlier if the situation changes.