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Moor Green Allotments

An Oasis in the Centre of Birmingham, England



A very watery problem!

Moor Green Allotments, Moseley - 300 tenants, 23 stand pipes, a very busy licensed Clubhouse, a

domestic user sharing our water infrastructure and an increasing number of poly tunnels were all

conspiring to give our Association a ‘watery-headache’. Add to that a diverse group of plot holders,

aspiring to grow ‘fields’ of pumpkins, courgettes and other squashes as well as exotics reflective of

their culture and heritage and our budget simply could not cope. It was a conundrum but such is

the tenacity of allotments gardeners that we determined to do more than mandate water harvesting

on every plot.

Geo-tech investigate

There were a couple of relevant conditions that we knew about the site. For example a couple of

streams flow through the site, fed by a natural spring and that double digging at the lower part of

the site revealed a very high water table. This led to the idea of investigating the potential of our

own water supply. It was Jon, experienced project manager, together with Duncan, geological

expert, who began the process of a feasibility study with Geotech, www.geotechnicalltd.co.uk.

Geotech under took a hydrogeological prognosis into the possibility of sinking a borehole. The

study came back positive…but…

Roopa, fund-raiser extraordinaire

…how do we afford such major capital expenditure? It was agreed to seek sponsorship1, apply to

the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and raise as much as we could through our own efforts.

Thereafter began a campaign and Roopa ‘stepped up to the plate’. At rent renewal she badgered

everyone - can you bake cakes?, make jams? grow for a plant sale? Will you join our sponsored

walk, ask your Club house party guests to put their spare change into the ‘borehole bottle’? and

much, much more. No one could escape her persuasive power of separating people from their

cash. Plot holders and social members alike responded more than generously. Meanwhile David,

experienced in bid writing, put together a very robust application to HLF. We waited anxiously to

hear back. With the success of our bid, matched by sponsorship and fund-raising we reckoned we

had enough to commission Geotech to start drilling. Of course, there were permissions to seek, but

they also came back positive. So the exciting work began!

Drilling down - the exciting work begins

Huge plant machinery arrived onsite ready to drill down to reach the water that previous reports

told us was there in plentiful supply. It was like a mini oil field! The expectation was to drill up to

250 meters deep to reach water but good fortune was on our side and by c100-150 meters it came

jetting out. Geotech capped it off while the rest of the gear was installed. This included two pumps -

one to pump water into the tank and the second to pump water to each of the stand pipes. The

pumps, housed in a substantial locked cupboard, needed electricity to operate and with the mains

supply being fairly close, this was not an obstacle to the installation.

The big black tank!

Next came the storage installation in the form of a massive, 20,000 litre tank (equivalent to 20 intermediate

bulk containers (IBCs)). Whilst it was always going to be somewhat of an edifice, the

tank is well situated close to the site entrance, visible but not intrusive. As a measure of protection

we have built barriers around the tank and painted them bright yellow! What a joy to hear the pump

kick in and the tank fill up at the end of March, when we turned on the water and tested the system.

The pressure seemed extremely good, even from stand pipe 22, right at the far end of the

site. We were in business! Did we dare cut the Severn Trent Water (STW) blue water pipe feeding

the site? We went for it and hence complied with health and safety regulations necessitating a

clear break between STW supply and the borehole supply to prevent any back flow.

How much water are we using?

At this early stage we don’t know how much water is actually being used by tenants onsite. However,

a slight modification in the form of a water meter fitted to the output pipe will give us an idea.

This work is in progress as we write.

The borehole was officially opened by Councillor Martin Straker-Weld on Saturday 15th June 2019.