Countryside Matters 2014 - page 6-7

MANAGING WATER
MANAGING WATER
Changingclimatecombinedwitholdflooddefencesmeansfloodingwillbemore
commonplace in the future.However, theGovernmenthaspledgedmore funding
toprotecthouseholdsandTheEnvironmentAgency iskeen tomakesureweareas
readyaswecanbewhilstgiving the taxpayervalue formoney.
Thedriving force
ofall nature
The combination of a changing climate, old flood defences such as walls,
barriers, embankmentsandgates coming to theendof their useful lifeand
theeconomyandpopulationof theUKgrowing,meansweare likely to see
an increase inthefrequencyoffloodingandmoredamagewhen ithappens.
Last yearwas an exceptionallywet year, thewettest year inEngland since
recordsbegan in1910.Withone insixhomesatriskofflooding inEngland,we
need toput inplaceanumberofapproaches todealwith this. Investment in
newand improveddefences isveryworthwhile:every£1 investedsaves£8 in
cleanupand repair costs. Recentlycompletedflooddefence schemeshave
providedprotectiontoanextra182,000properties inthepastthreeyears.
However, man-made flood defences are only part of the story. We are
implementingso-called‘softapproaches’tofloodandcoastalriskmanagement
workingwith, ratherthanagainst,nature.
Governmentpolicya fewyearsagowasnamed ‘makingspace forwater’, (in
the Netherlands the Dutch have a similar policy; ‘making room for rivers’)
acceptingthatriversarenatural; thatattimesofheavyrainormeltingsnow
theywillovertoptheirbanksandwaterwillspillontothefloodplain.
4
5
by
DavidRooke
DirectorofFlood
andCoastalRiskManagement
attheEnvironmentAgency
MostofthelowlandriversinEnglandhavefloodstoragesystems,wherewater
isexcludedbyfloodbanks fornormalflowor lowtomediumtypefloods.For
largefloods,watereitherovertopsthefloodbanksorweopenspecially-built
gatestoallowwaterontotheland.Thewateristhenstoreduntilthemainflood
hasdispersed. It isthenreleasedslowlydowntheriver,sothatthe landowner/
farmergetsthebenefitof landthat isnot frequentlyflooded.However,when
amajorfloodoccurs thefloodplain isused to reduce the riskof flooding to
communitiesand landdownstream.
Restoring the natural function of the floodplain benefits wildlife, flood risk
management, and, through incentives offered by agri-environment and
otherGovernmentschemes, canprovidefinancial reward to landownersand
farmers. Agoodexampleof how thisworks is a current project to recreate
wetlands in theFens,whereweareworkingwithwildlifegroups, landowners
and farmers.Wehaveother initiativesunderwaywhereflood storageareas
provide local benefits andmorewidespread ones for thewhole of a river’s
catchmentarea.
The rainfall andfloodinghashadahuge impacton farmersand landowners
not just in2012butalso in2013.2012waswetforso longduringthegrowing
Water...
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