A £45,000 borehole is being drilled at Royal Hospital, Chelsea to irrigate plants at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. ‘We are pulling out all the stops, implementing a voluntary hosepipe ban, sourcing water wisely and still putting on a world-class event,’ said Bob Sweet, organiser of Chelsea. ‘Drilling a borehole to source non-drinking water has never been done at Chelsea before and it seems like a wise watertight move now.’

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has an 84-year history but never before has a borehole been used. The drilling rig will bore through 100 metres of clay and chalk before it hits a water-table lower than the River Thames. Contractors will then lower submersible pump into the borehole to extract the water. Exhibitors at the show will be able to source this extracted water from standpipes situated across the showground. Once the borehole has been installed there will be no evidence of its existence other than the pipe used to fill the tanks. ‘This borehole will also provide us with a long term sustainable solution to access water wisely and responsibly in the future,’ Mr Sweet continued.

The RHS worked closely with the Environment Agency and Thames Water to find the best option to source water wisely this year, considering worries about water shortage in the south east over the summer. Following guidelines set by the Environment Agency, the Royal Horticultural Society will extract 20 cubic metres, (4,400 gallons) of water a day from early May until the end of the show. The water storage tanks, which are buried under the ground, will be topped up daily and there will be sufficient water for exhibitors to irrigate gardens, floral exhibits and for water features.