Monday, 2 March 2015

I have my droughts about the floods

Well spring is just around the corner, well I hope its just around the corner. Depending on the effects of global warming the year will be unpredictable. So I wonder if it will be a fine and warm summer and we see a return to water shortages, with locks closed and the cruising season curtailed. Or maybe it will be another summer of heavy rain and the resultant flooding which will curtail the cruising season. Add into the mix the usual monthly lock and breach failures it should prove to be business as usual for CaRT.

Its funny looking back to droughts and floods because that's just how the 2012 season went for us. A good early spring followed on from a dry winter season. Water levels in the reservoir were low and CaRT in its wisdom introduced limited daily cruising hours. However, the introduction of the lock down of the locks, was followed by several weeks of torrential rain. The bye wash were overflowing flowing and top locks gates were over topping. The reservoirs were rapidly filling up and some early flooding occurred. The locks continued to be locked down each evening as a way of conserving water. The highlight for me was watching the Thames  boat pageant from a mooring on the River Trent where we spent several weeks weeks waiting for the water to subside so we could set off again.

The Environment Agency was under intense scrutiny. People had built homes on on Somerset flood meadows - ignoring the obvious fact that at some time in the future - their homes would be flooded. Now, because the flood meadows that had flooded previously from time immemorial. Had done their thing and flooded absorbing large quantities of flood water.  Plus Londoners alongside the Thames would enjoy the waterside properties becoming a short term part of the Thames itself.

It had been considered to be a stroke of good fortune that the trust had not been allowed to take over any of the EA waterways. Because had it done so, it would have been a huge political cock up for any of the countries flood defences to have been placed in the remit of a charity. The brown stuff would certainly have hit the fan. The coalition certainly escaped on that one by being able to say that the environment side of the EA had enjoyed far to much sway in deciding and implementing poor flood control methods. The lack of significant investment in flood defences by the government was neatly sidestepped.

George Monbiot published a very interesting article on the subject of water catchment areas and flood alleviation methods. It is an article that is well worth reading. As usual the reality of allowing flood meadows to absorb unusual amounts of flood water is in the governments view - crass stupidity. The governments methodology for future flood control from the head waters to the sea beggars belief. I expect that there will be significant amounts of flooding in the next few years. The once in a hundred year flooding events will become much more frequent. The events of 2012 will be replayed many times over unless there is a significant change in the management from end to end.


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