East Mercia Rivers Trust executive director says flooding affects us all as she writes on impact of Storm Henk for Stamford Climate Action Group
Flooding affects us all, writes Rachel Butler, executive director of the East Mercia Rivers Trust.
Very few rivers are classed as healthy, and most have been subjected to historical human activity. Straightening and deepening modifications were designed to remove water quickly to drain the land for agriculture, and today we are seeing the consequences of that.
East Mercia Rivers Trust (EMRT) along with our partners the Environment Agency and Anglian Water, prioritise river restoration in the upper reaches to improve biodiversity and water quality but also to increase climate resilience.
In simple terms, reconnecting the river to its floodplain so it can, once again, store water during high rainfall to release downstream in times of low rainfall - ‘slow the flow’. Dredging is not the answer. It may reduce flood water levels, but it damages wildlife, destabilises riverbanks increasing erosion and causes flooding downstream. It is also infeasible to dredge channels with the capacity to carry flood flows of the kind witnessed recently.
This month’s flooding is a warning to planning authorities. Stop building on floodplains, ensure adequate green spaces are interspaced between urban developments to absorb the increasing number of high intensity rainfall events and upgrade the drainage infrastructure. Recently, tragically, homes and businesses suffered flooding in towns and villages across Rutland and Lincolnshire. With the building of new housing, run off will increase and the number of affected properties will grow.
The impact of new housing is felt on all our infrastructure, whilst all are important to address, flood modelling should be required to be applied at the town or village level for all housing developments collectively.
As the climate emergency grows and the risk of flooding increases, we can, as a community, respond. Introducing a Flood Wardens scheme, successfully implemented elsewhere, will help people prepare for flooding in areas most at risk.
EMRT in partnership with the EA and local councils is looking to recruit and train volunteers. Flood Wardens play an important role in preparing a community flood plan and helping to execute it. They also provide a vital link between local communities and those responsible for responding to a flood. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org