Loss Of Control:
In 2012, a Mussel kill event occurred in the River Ehen in West Cumbria. It was estimated that up to 90% of mussels in the river were wiped out. These were the very same animals that were alive when Charles Darwin released his Origin of Species theory, in 1859.
The Ehen is a local river, and was home to around 535,000 freshwater pearl mussels – the largest population in England. The mussels are an endangered species, and the river is one of a few in the UK that is home to an aquatic animal that lives to 210-250 years of age.
The freshwater pearl mussel is one of the longest-living invertebrates in existence and is protected under international legislation. The freshwater pearl mussel is on a list of the worlds 365 “most endangered species” – that list includes the Tiger, Panda and Rhinoceros.
Following the kill event, United Utilities, along with support from the Environment Agency and Natural England, agreed that their work programme had to be modified with regard to the supply of water to residents & industry, as well as discharges into the Ehen from Ennerdale Water.
That agreed work meant that United Utilities would begin to extract water from Thirlmere instead of Ennerdale, at a cost of £300 million.
The water supply from Thirlmere will begin no later than 2022 – this is the year that the Environment Agency will withdraw United Utilities licence to extract water from Ennerdale.
In the interim, to protect the remaining population of freshwater pearl mussels, United Utilities have been blending hard water from boreholes with water from Ennerdale at a 50/50 mix. The change in water supplied has upset many residents in the area because their kettles have begun to pop as the water boils, or their irons are spitting. I kid you not.
There have been numerous claims by residents on social media, with one theme:
They are only bloody mussels, and I pay my water rates!
The selfishness from some people has astounded me. If this was a story about fox hunting or elephants facing extinction, there would be outrage and people demanding their protection. But in this case, a cup of tea is more important than a species that was on this planet many years before the whingers had even registered a twinkle in their amorous grandfathers eye.
Selfish people are weak and are haunted by the fear of loss of control. Putting goals, priorities and needs first, before others is despicable. We have a few year until soft water is restored in West Cumbria. People need to realise that there is a much bigger picture to this, than concentrating on their own self centered inconvenience.
There are 2.4 billion people without access to clean water. Those complaining about hard water should think how lucky they are.
We have no more right to be on this planet, than every other creature that live alongside us.
Charles Darwin: Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.