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Water butts to help boost crops and conserve resources at Birkdale allotments

Posted: 29/06/23

To read the original article from United Utilities, click here.

Dozens of water butts have been installed at Birkdale allotments in Southport to help growers make the most of the rainfall, reduce their use of potable water, and keep their costs down.

The site, on Moss Road in Halsall, is owned by Sefton Council and is home to 137 plots, where people grow everything from carrots and cauliflower, to strawberries and salads. It is also used by a local food bank, mental health charity, and school and scout groups, to give children and adults the chance to learn about growing their own food and get hands-on.

Now, thanks to North West water company United Utilities and contractors Hebs Group Ltd, a Liverpool-based facilities management and projects service provider, 20 large water butts have been installed across the site. Each butt can store 1,000 litres of rainfall, so, when they fill up over the coming weeks and months, growers will have a plentiful supply for their plants. Using this stored rainfall instead of potable water from the taps could have a significant impact on the site’s consumption, and therefore its costs.

United Utilities is also working with members of the allotment society so they can share the importance of water efficiency across the community. A dedicated gazebo has been constructed within the site, where allotment holders will host group visits so they can pass on tips and ideas to visitors and give them the chance to see how the water butts can work in their own gardens.

The new water butts and visitor hub were officially opened at a community event on Sunday (11th June), with allotment holders giving people the chance to find out about growing their own produce and how they can get started. United Utilities were also on hand to spread the word about water efficiency, and provided some smaller water butts for people to install in their gardens.

Mark Booth, Area Engagement Lead at United Utilities, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Birkdale allotments. The site is one of our region’s largest water-consuming allotments, so having 20,000 litres of rainwater available when the containers are full will go a long way towards lowering water consumption and saving money. Having water butts also reduces the amount of surface water run-off that enters the sewers, which can help decrease the risk of localised flooding.

“The enthusiasm of the allotment society for helping others in the area to save water is really welcome, and we’re grateful for their support in spreading the word about water efficiency.

“Helping people save water in their homes and gardens is something we do all year round, and we encourage everyone to take simple steps such as shorter showers and using a watering can (filled from a water butt of course) instead of a hosepipe. These small changes can add up to a big difference when it comes to saving water and lowering bills.”

Ian Singleton, Chair of Birkdale Allotments Society, said: “Not only will the collecting stations collect a considerable amount of rainfall, we now also have the outside room for group visits and new storage space. It’s transformed the site in more ways than just providing water. The belief in us and our journey in bringing the community together, including through our food bank, mental health and youth plots, is fantastic.

“The United Utilities investment is very worthwhile, much needed, and hugely appreciated by everybody. The community is overwhelmed by the generosity of United Utilities and everyone is talking about it.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Sefton Council, said: “Allotments have proved themselves to be an invaluable asset for residents, particularly over the past few years.

“So, to see investment and improvements to allotments in Birkdale that will enhance tenants ability to grow produce and reduce water costs is fantastic.”