Independent report warns of 'impossible demands' on water supply if Sark's population rises to 700

The study states that Sark's population growing to 700 would put great pressure on the island's boreholes and wells. Credit: ITV Channel

Sark could run out of water if future housing developments go ahead, a report from a UK expert has warned.

The independent study found that a proposed growth in the population, to 700 people, would put great pressure on the island's boreholes and wells.

Its author, Dr Derek Clarke from Southampton University, adds: "If the population rose to 700 people, the increased demands for water combined with the impacts of Climate Change may place impossible demands on the available groundwater."

Jo Birch from La Société Serquiaise says residents will have to work hard to make the supply sustainable in the future.

She explains: "We can't obviously build a reservoir, but I think we could make the residents aware to save water.

"I've lived in dry places where any building has to have some underground water storage clipped from the roof, so I think most it's probably a question of making people aware that we could run out of water. That would be pretty desperate."

The report was commissioned by islander Jane Norwich in the spring of 2024 and information was gathered over a three-day visit to Sark.

It is believed that over the next 10 to 15 years, drought frequency is likely to rise from one in five years to one in three.

The issues of how climate change would affect the island has also been explored.

By the year 2100, water extraction could exceed the amount of rain that falls on the island, which is currently around 825mm each year.

Paul Amorgie runs a hotel in Sark and says drought is already a problem.

He says: "We know friends of ours who are prone to running out of water, particularly during the dry years and have to bring in water with a bowser, which is a frightening thought.

"So we have a huge amount of respect for the use of water."

However, the study does provide a number of recommendations as well.

It suggests that an assessment should be made to identify the most productive boreholes around Sark.

It is currently not possible to determine how the groundwater recovers after a drought summer so the report recommends the island reinstate a groundwater monitoring system to gain more information.

Any new builds and major housing renovations should also require water saving technologies to reduce consumption and the island should introduce a water development fee.

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