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英国缺水:阴雨绵绵为什么还会储水不足?

更新时间:2019/4/18 22:17:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why Britain's rain can't sustain its thirst
英国缺水:阴雨绵绵为什么还会储水不足?

When it comes to water scarcity, the last place on Earth you’d think of is rain-soaked England. Winter here is cold and wet. It rains for what feels like weeks on end. Lawns squelch with saturated soil and garden water butts overflow, likely to be unused until April. The UK’s average annual rainfall is a sopping 1200mm, compared to the 300s in Afghanistan, or just double-figures in Egypt.

英国多雨,从来没有人会把它和缺水联系在一起。英国的冬天又湿又冷,下起雨来好像几个星期都不会停。草坪都湿透了,和泥土一起泡在水里,在四月以前都没有人会到花园草坪上去,屋檐下的集雨桶也是满了又满。英国年均降水量有1200毫米之多,而阿富汗只有300毫米,而埃及的年均降水量仅为两位数。

Yet within a few short months, significant parts of the UK will be staring down the barrel of empty water butts. Much of that four-figure average rainfall is propped up by the rainy highlands of Scotland, Wales and Northern England. In the South-East of England, the average annual rainfall lingers around 500-600mm – less than South Sudan, or Perth, Western Australia. This also happens to be the UK’s most populated area, packing some 18 million inhabitants into just 19,000 sq km (the size of New Jersey), including its capital, London. And this region is drying up, fast.

然而在短短几个月之后,英国境内所有的集雨桶便都见底了。英国的年均降水量能达四位数,其中苏格兰高地、威尔士和英格兰北部贡献最大。英格兰西南部的年降水量在500-600毫米之间,甚至比南苏丹和西澳的珀斯还要少。整个地区占地19000平方公里,和美国的新泽西州大小差不多,英国人口最集中的地方又恰好就在这里,其中包括首都伦敦,有将近1800万的居民。而此区域的水资源正在快速枯竭。

Last year (2018) saw six consecutive months of below average rainfall in England, causing many reservoirs to run dangerously low. This was no ‘one off’ event. The previous year, 2017, saw the driest 10-month period for more than 100 years.

去年(2018年),英国有连续六个月的时间降水量低于平均值,导致水库出水量严重不足。无独有偶,2017年有连续十个月,达到了近百年来的缺水之最。

The latest Government Water Abstraction plan shows that 28% of groundwater aquifers in England, and up to 18% of rivers and reservoirs, are unsustainably abstracted. Only 17% of England's rivers are classified as being in ‘good ecological health’.

政府最新的水资源开采统计显示,人们正在无计划地汲取水资源,其中包含英格兰地区28%的地下含水层以及18%的河流、水库。英格兰所有河流中,被评级为“生态健康”的,只占其中的17%。

Yet much of the public remain oblivious to the problem. The majority (55%) of freshwater in the UK is abstracted for domestic, household use, compared to just 1% for agriculture. The average Brit uses 150 litres of water per day, through a combination of showers, high-flush toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, and garden hoses. Compare that to Cape Town, where annual rainfall also averages around 500mm yet residents’ usage is capped at 50-70 litres per day.

然而大多数人并没有意识到这个问题。畜牧业和家庭用水是英国淡水消耗的大头,占到了55%之多,而农业用水仅占1%。英国人均每日用水达150升,包括洗澡、冲厕、洗碗、洗衣、浇灌花园等。开普敦的年均降水量约为500毫米,当地人每日用水量最多也只有50-70升。

“People don’t see water as something we need to save… the [public perception is] we are a wet country”, sighs Hannah Freeman, senior government affairs officer for the charity Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). “But the [latest] climate change projections say that the chance of dry summers is going to increase by up to 50%.” And warmer winters, too. The UK has just experienced its warmest February on record, with temperatures reaching 21.2C in London – the first time a reading above 20C had ever been recorded during the winter. Bemused Brits walked around in shorts and T-shirts and sunbathed in parks, when they would usually be wrapped up in scarves.

弗里曼(Hannah Freeman)就职于野生鸟类和湿地慈善信托机构(WWT),是政府事务的高级官员。他说,“人们并不觉得有珍惜水资源的必要,因为在公众眼里英国是个多雨的国度。然而,最新的气候变化预测显示,英国夏季的干旱现象激增,增长幅度最多可达50%。”除此之外,冬天也会更加温暖。今年二月,英国的气温创下了历史新高,伦敦地区的温度达到了21.2摄氏度,此前从没有冬天气温超过20摄氏度。英国人都困惑不已,穿起了短袖,纷纷到公园里去晒太阳。而通常人们是带上围巾才会出来的。

England offers a case study of how previously wet countries will have to wake up to a future of increasing water scarcity. Conor Linstead, an international freshwater specialist at WWF, says many countries are now “experiencing a water scarcity problem from over abstraction because they failed to give enough thought to water allocation mechanisms… exceptional droughts will become the norm under climate change”.

雨水资源丰富的国家,要怎样才能意识到未来日益短缺的水资源?英国是一个很好的案例。世界自然基金会的国际淡水专家林斯特德(Conor Linstead)表示,目前有许多国家,正在“历经水资源用竭的问题。这是由于人们没有深入考虑水资源分配机制导致的,而气候变化又会导致极干旱天气的频发。”

Sao Paulo, in Brazil – a country that boasts 12-16% of the world’s freshwater – incredibly almost ran out of water in 2014 during the worst drought in its history. The main reservoir for the country’s largest city dropped to just 3% capacity (far lower than Cape Town’s widely reported crisis in 2018, when official’s came perilously close to turning off the city’s taps if its reservoirs fell below 13.5% capacity). In August 2018, the mighty Danube river flowing through Hungary dropped to a record low of barely above half a metre, halting tourist cruises and freight shipping.

即使是位于巴西这个淡水资源占全球总量12-16%的国家,圣保罗在2014年遭遇了历史上最严重的干旱,水资源几近枯竭。圣保罗市主要水库的蓄水量降至最大容量的3%(2018年开普敦的淡水危机事件为媒体所广泛报道。政府宣布,如果水库蓄水量低于13.5%,就会切断城市的水供应。)2018年8月,多瑙河匈牙利流域水位创下新低,深度只有半米多一点。导致游轮和货运中断。

England’s London and Thames Valley region is classified by the UK Environment Agency as 'seriously water stressed'. “We have relatively small water storage facilities”, explains Steve Tuck, abstraction manager for Thames Water, “which means we take from rivers and groundwater aquifers to supply the large population.” He admits this system is “a little hand to mouth”. High rainfall in winter should sufficiently top up the aquifers and slowly seep out into the rivers during summer. But over-use by households coupled with a growing population and less frequent rainfall has led to “an exacerbation” of the problem, Tuck admits.

英国环境署已经将伦敦和泰晤士河谷地区划为“严重缺水”地区。泰晤士水务公司的引水经理塔克(Steve Tuck)解释说,“我们的储水设施规模很小。这就是说,为了满足大量人口的用水需求,必须从河流和地下含水层中引水。”他也承认,这样的供给系统有点得过且过的意思。雨水充足的冬天,含水层储水充盈,到了夏天水会慢慢渗到河流里。然而,如今家庭用水时浪费严重,加之人口激增、雨量骤减,供给系统存在的问题会进一步恶化。

Thames Water has even invested in the UK’s very first desalination facility in the Thames estuary to provide London with an additional 150 million litres of drinking water a day. “Another option is to potentially transfer water across from the River Severn, water that ultimately comes from the Welsh mountains, and transfer that [by pipeline] to the Thames”, says Tuck, which raises the prospect of the thirsty south sucking the rest of the UK dry.

英国第一个海水淡化设备,是泰晤士水务公司投资建成的。设备位于泰晤士河口,每天能为伦敦供应1.5亿升的饮用水。塔克说,“还有一个方法,就是从塞文河(River Severn)里取水。我们可以利用管道将发源自威尔士山脉中的水引流至泰晤士河。”这样以来,加大了干涸的南部地区把英国其他地区吸干的可能性。

There is a prospect of the global north sucking the global south dry, too. UK supermarkets offer fresh fruit and vegetables all year round, irrespective of the season, supplied from around the world. Around 24% of this is thrown in the bin, the vast majority after purchase. According to Dorcas Pratt, deputy director of Water Witness International, the sustainable development and water charity, “the big story here is that 62% of our virtual water use in the UK – the water we needed to produce food we eat and products we use – is sourced overseas.

全球范围内也有可能出现一种北方抽干南方的现象。英国超市全年供应来自世界各地的新鲜水果、蔬菜。其中的24%,最终会被丢进垃圾桶处理。大部分还是在购买后被丢弃的。致力于可持续发展和水资源公益事业的世界水资源见证组织副总监派拉特(Dorcas Pratt)表示,“其中包含着一个信息是,生产食品和各种用品时需要用到的水,也就是‘虚拟水’,大多是来自海外的。”

“Our global water footprint means that the water used by the UK is interwoven with that of communities and economies across the world. So not only are we over-abstracting water from some of the UKs aquifers, but through our globalised consumption patterns we are driving over abstraction (or pollution or water conflict or ecosystem degradation) in countries across the world.” She points to the asparagus farms in Peruvian deserts as just one example.

他说,“英国的‘虚拟水’来源自全球各地,也就是说,全球各地的社区和经济体都与英国命运相关。因此,我们现在不仅是在抽干英国地底下的水。全球化的消费模式下,我们也在消耗世界各国的水资源(或污染水质、造成水事纠纷、生态降级等)。”派拉特还举了个秘鲁沙漠中芦笋种植场的例子。

Despite dry spells and drought becoming more frequent in the UK, Catherine Moncrieff at WWF-UK believes the underlying issue is people “using water wastefully”. Traditionally wet countries need to reconnect with the worth and cost of water. Only half of households in England and Wales have a water meter installed. The other half pay a flat monthly rate, irrespective of the amount of water they use; you can leave a lawn sprinkler on all day, or take a one-hour shower, and face no extra cost.

世界自然基金会英国分部的蒙克里夫(Catherine Moncrieff)认为,尽管英国持续干旱、且干旱现象日益频繁,但问题的关键还是在于人们的浪费。即使国家雨水充沛,人们也应该重视水的价值、认识到水资源的成本。在英格兰的威尔士地区,只有半数家庭安装了水表。剩下的家庭每月按照固定费率缴纳水费,开上一天的草坪洒水器,或者是洗一小时的淋浴澡,都不需要额外交费。

By contrast, an Environment Agency report from 2008 identified Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium as almost fully metered – all had a far lower water consumption per person than the UK’s 150 litres a day. Finland’s was just 115 litres per day. But that wasn’t always the case. In the 1970s, Finns saturated themselves with some 350-420 litres per day. The downward trend since, says the report, is due to “higher water prices, better technology in households and utilities, increased consumer awareness and better utility management.”

2008年,环境署有一份报告指出,丹麦、芬兰、荷兰、德国、比利时这几个国家,几乎家家户户都安装了水表,他们的人均每日用水量也远远低于英国的150升。在芬兰,人均每日用水量仅有115升。芬兰并不是一贯如此,上世纪70年代的芬兰,人均每日用水量有350-420升。报告指出,芬兰人之所以开始省水,是因为“水价上调、家电更高科技、消费者公共意识提高、公共设施设备更先进、管理更完备。”

According to Linstead at WWF, “almost every country that has carried out successful water efficiency campaigns has metering. Universal water metering also helps the utility to detect leaks, meaning further water savings.”

世界自然基金会的林斯特德说,“成功开展节水运动的国家,几乎家家户户都安装了水表。水表设备的普及,也有助于监测漏水。这也就进一步落实了节约用水的理念。”

Denmark, too, used to take freshwater for granted – perhaps understandably, in a small country that boasts over 120,000 lakes and 69,000 km of watercourses. In 1989, the average Dane quaffed, flushed and bathed in 170 litres per day, at a cost of just 2 euros per cubic metre (1,000 litres). The introduction of mandatory water metering and a steady price increase up to 7 euros pcm2 by 2012 saw individual consumption drop to 114 litres per day. WWF go further, saying that 80 litres per person “is entirely possible to achieve now” in homes fitted with modern, water-efficient appliances.

在丹麦,人们也曾一度挥霍淡水资源,这也不难理解,毕竟丹麦国土面积不大,却有12万条河流、水道长达69,000公里。1989年,丹麦人均每日用水量为170升,其中包括饮用、冲洗、沐浴等。此时每立方米(1000升)的水价仅为2欧元。后来政府强制安装了水表,并把水价调控至7欧/立方米。2012年,每日人均耗水量降至了114升。世界自然基金会认为这个数字还应进一步降低,现在的家庭都配备了现代的节水设备,每日人均耗水量降至80升是“完全可以实现”的。

A coalition of charities including WWF and WWT, under the moniker “Blueprint for Water”, are now calling for more sustainable water consumption, both in the UK and beyond. Between 2010 and 2015, Southern Water became the first English water company to begin mandatory metering; over the same period, the company achieved a 16% reduction in per capita water consumption and a 15% reduction in leakages.

世界自然基金会(WWF)、世界自然基金会(WWT)等慈善机构都加入了“水蓝图”(Blueprint for Water)联盟,旨在呼吁英国及世界其他国家和地区实现水资源可持续发展。2010至2015年间,南方水务公司成为英国首家,开始强制推行水表安装公司,此后公司统计,人均用水量降低了16%,漏水量也减少了15%。

There’s no reason why soggy old England “can’t achieve water security”, says Freeman. “We’ve got plenty of water when it rains! We just need to be better at using it.”

阴雨绵绵的英格兰没有理由“不实现水源安全”,弗里曼说,“一下雨,我们英国有的是水!我们的问题是优化水资源的利用。”

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