Tuesday, 11 February 2014


And I mean the water level, not my now half-century-old hairline!

I looked up from the computer after posting yesterday's blog to see the lock gates open and the red board reverted to green.

How long will it last, though? Some very heavy weather systems are apparently tracking across the Atlantic. It's windy and rainy again today. No doubt we are in for more of the same high water behaviour.

At least up here, the drainage system seems to be mostly coping, though nearby Waterbeach made the national news with reports of raw sewage backing up through manhole covers and into gardens.

There seems to be quite a debate as to whether dredging would have been the answer. Establishing up-stream wetland areas to hold the excess like a sponge is one of the alternatives propounded by pundits like George Monbiot.

There is merit in the suggestion: it is more sustainable an option than repeated dredging and the establishment and maintenance of ever more costly flood defences.

There are problems, though. The land needed probably belongs to someone. That someone may well have been farming it for generations. They will likely be extremely unwilling to see it used in this way.

Further, it's not something that can be established overnight. Those up to their armpits in water on the Somerset Levels or the Thames Valley need something done to fix the problem NOW! I doubt even Mr Monbiot would disagree if he was wading through his living room rather than sitting in a nice warm office at The Guardian..........

The problem seems to be that a system was established that would have worked, or at least worked better, had it been properly maintained by dredging. The Environment Agency are now saying this wasn't done because of Whitehall cost-cutting. The reasons why it wasn't done are of entirely secondary importance. The debate surrounding it smacks more of Government place-men seeking to justify their inaction (and thus preserve their jobs and pensions), than a serious attempt to establish what went wrong.

More rain is forecast: another inch at least in the affected areas.

And now the flooding is affecting the densely populated Thames Valley, not just what The Men in Suits see as a few hapless hayseeds out of sight and out of mind in far away Somerset. (If you think that a trifle harsh, remember it took a visit from the Prince of Wales to highlight the problems they were facing. Lord Smith and Cameron trailed in his, er, wake......)

They'd better change from Suits to Wetsuits, and fast..........

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