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Somerset 'Near Breaking Point' Over Flooding

 

Somerset is getting towards breaking point after weeks of flooding with more heavy rain expected in the coming days, says the leader of the county council. Residents in the village of Muchelney have been cut off for three weeks and have been reliant on volunteers in boats bringing in supplies. Council chief John Osman told Sky News the water levels in the county are rising and they need more support from the Government. He said: "It's been a difficult time. We've been under water for three weeks now. "We've got the Environment Agency and Defra listening but not taking enough action. "What I need is some money and some national support saying 'we're going to start dredging and start pumping'."

 

Somerset County Council is campaigning for the dredging of rivers on the Levels and has recently pledged a further £500,000 towards the cost - a move backed by Sedgemoor District Council. Sedgemoor District Council has declared a "major incident" on the Levels, with most of the area remaining under water. A vital boat service operated by Somerset County Council, which is ferrying people to work and school, as well as taking in supplies, is continuing as the access roads are still flooded. The Environment Agency does not have any severe flood warnings - meaning a risk to life - in force in Somerset but there are several flood warnings in place.

 

An agency spokeswoman told Sky News: "We're doing everything we can to pump water off the Levels. We've got 62 pumps pumping 24/7 - our biggest pumping operation ever." Kerry Rickards, chief executive of Sedgemoor District Council, said: "Several Sedgemoor communities have been severely affected by the floodwaters for some weeks now. "With significant rainfall expected over the coming days we feel this situation needs to be escalated as a major incident. "Sedgemoor District Council would like to extend its continued sympathy for the residents, business owners and farmers affected by flooding." The council said it would continue to provide practical support to residents affected by flooding. This includes supplying portable toilets where septic tanks are overwhelmed, sandbag collection points in villages and deliveries to the most vulnerable properties.

 

http://news.sky.com/story/1200989/somerset-near-breaking-point-over-flooding

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There's no doubt the river system has not been maintained as it was in the past.The whole area would naturally be like it is now most winters.With a vaguely Green and cost-cutting  mindset, the Environment Agency have made it progressively more difficult to do the work in a rational way, for example they will allow one section to be cleared but insist the next length is not done, result being the cleared section does not run as it should.Trees and vegetation are not coppiced back as in the past, and partial dams block channels in a way which would have horrified the previous managers.If the policy is now going to be to deliberately destroy the work of generations, and make this area un-inhabitable and un-farmable like it was in prehistory, then why not say so and compensate those who are going to have to abandon the place..

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I agree there are a few things the gov need to do.

Dredging rivers is a good start, but its not very effective as you need to dredge almost all of it for any kind of positive response on water levels.

 

I think some rivers need their banks raising, maybe even widen rivers.

Also i think we should look at possibly creating storm drainage systems ( similar to what they have in the usa. ) where on a normal day, would be dry. However during times like this, we can open up and enable rapid drainage from areas affected.

 

I must admit, it doesnt look like the gov are doing much BUT im certain there is a lot of work going on to fix prone areas.

 

here in gloucester a LOT of work ( and still going on ) was done after our very bad floods a few years back.

Huge balancing ponds have been created ( and i mean HUGE ) , the banks have been repaired in a lot of area, flood defenses have been installed and on the whole its a lot better.

 

However,

The bottom line is,

Flooding happens. We cant get away from it, we need flood plains. the water has to go somewhere.

We need to STOP building on them.  

 

Today, travelling around gloucester there are miles upon miles of flooded land. we should never build on it or near it.. yet we do :(

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You can build there if you must, but buildings need to be designed in such a way that lower floors are above normal flood levels, and in worst case scenario the ground floor should be expected to flood - but materials used should pressure wash clean and be usable again in a couple of weeks.For example the well known riverside buildings in York have all electric fittings at shoulder height and the place reopens soon after the water is out the door.At the same time drainage systems need upgrading and every attention given to proper maintenance, so the inconvenient flooded periods are minimised.

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There's a few reasons we hear more about more flooding.

 

1. More homes built on flood plains/river valleys (this has to stop)

 

2. The rise of the Internet and 24 hours news channels - word of mouth spreads quicker than ever about a place that has been flooded. Years ago if a town was flooded we never knew about it. But now we do.

 

3. Councils not clearing out drains and sewers like they used to.

Edited by Gaz1985

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Since when do the likes of DC & co give a crud about Somerset?What will it do for their ever important a CVs...gets in the way of too much grandstanding around the world, selfies and the likes.It takes a major supermarket and local muscle to react - it also costs money. The same money which has in some cases been squandered on aid for folk thousands of miles away, not those suffering in the UK.

 

Indeed, I cannot believe we still give money to booming nations like Brazil, India, China. We could of spent that money on flood defences. Somethings not right in that regard and we're not getting the full picture by those idiots in 10 Downing St. Some powerful people overseas are being kept happy with handouts. 

Edited by Gaz1985

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It is on points west most nights, Their ask the environment agency, it goes round in circles,Yes their could dredge the rivers like use two, Would not apparently help it,But with another number of solutions could, Yet still no answer why their done nothing...... Somerset needs help. But government does not care about farm land. R wildlife 

Edited by lfcdude

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It's kind of off topic but cutting the EA budget will/has had a detrimental effect on the safety of those in need of flood control. I think it's appalling that there have been cuts in all public services such as Police, Fireman, NHS & the Environment Agency. We then get some snotty nosed millionaires telling us that the country is going down the rotter and it needs to be done. Hmmm....There should never be a price on safety, and as soon as the Conservatives are out of power, the better!

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I don't think new building there is the problem.

 

The locals, and the experts of the Royal Bath & West agricultural society, representing hundreds of farmers – the Levels comprise a fifth of all Somerset’s farmland – and are in no doubt as to why these floods are the most devastating in memory: it is because, since it took over prime responsibility in 1995 for keeping this vast area drained, the Environment Agency has deliberately abandoned the long-standing policy of dredging its rivers.

 

Thanks to the agency, the four main rivers have become so clogged with silt that there is no way for floodwaters to escape. The farmers and the local drainage boards that used to keep the pumping stations in working order are only too keen to play their part in clearing the maze of drainage ditches. But the agency’s officials have decreed that, as soon as silt is lifted on to the banks, it cannot be spread on nearby fields without being classified as “controlled wasteâ€, making it so difficult to move that much of it just slides back into the water.

 

This has reduced the volume of water that can 'escape' by as much as 50% and to compound the problem the flood protection banks built to keep the water out have the opposite effect when they are breached. The only recourse then is to pump as in the current situation.

 

By all means take a complete overview of the situation and address any other problems but to me it seems inescapable that dredging of the four rivers is the priority.

 

And it sure as hell shouldn't be left to local fund raising to find  the money when the government can waste millions on cockeyed IT schemes, etc.

Edited by knocker

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hope you all stay safe looking at the radar its not looking good to say the least were the army with their huge pumps were is my Cameron  when you need him  !!

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Arr good a thread where I can sound off about flood plains.

The Somerset levels have flooded like this many times before. The geological record shows this as it does in all the flood plains in the country in fact the whole world

This event is not unusual in the broad context of history.

The problem is that humans have a small memory for important things like flood plain inundation, instead we read the news and it tells us what is normal and what is not.

The older people of the Somerset levels well know their history.

 

It is a shame for them and I feel sorry for them.

It is a shame that the rivers were not dredged properly as history proves that method works to get the water away faster.

I have been avoiding flood plains with my house purchasing since I learnt about them in the 1980's at collage in a library book.

Every house I have bought or rented since then has not been on a flat staring you in the face floodplain.

 

One last thing I believe "they" do not want to dredge the rivers because of cost and the old nasty pollutants that may be dredged up from our industrial/agricultural past.

It is a tough world, live with dredging and survive without as much flooding, is the option I would choose every time.

 

Please listen to the old country workers and read history, it is important, more important than most people think. Listening to people that have reams and reams of qualifications and practically no experience has not got Somerset anywhere has it. After all if "they" had experience, this problem would have been expected wouldn't it? Bit it was not was it?

Edited by Rustynailer

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Posted · Hidden by Cakie, January 26, 2014 - Not really on topic
Hidden by Cakie, January 26, 2014 - Not really on topic

Posted ImageOh no I have just caught a Somerset flood bug.....Posted ImagePosted Image Help

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Arr good a thread where I can sound off about flood plains.

The Somerset levels have flooded like this many times before. 

 

Please listen to the old country workers and read history, it is important, more important than most people think. Listening to people that have reams and reams of qualifications and practically no experience has not got Somerset anywhere has it. After all if "they" had experience, this problem would have been expected wouldn't it? Bit it was not was it?

 

 

 

Please listen to them BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. In 20 years time there won't be many left who can remember before the war.  You do hear fascinating things from 80+ year olds, like that the estate where I used to live was a lake in the 1920s. Which would explain the water table being about 3 inches deep and the standing water that formed every time it rained. 

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Please listen to them BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. In 20 years time there won't be many left who can remember before the war.  You do hear fascinating things from 80+ year olds, like that the estate where I used to live was a lake in the 1920s. Which would explain the water table being about 3 inches deep and the standing water that formed every time it rained. 

This awakening of listening to our elders and reading of the "past" and hearing spoken tails of the past, should be instilled in our basic instincts. Sadly schooling removes instincts, this is wrong.

Schooling should instill a respect in ones elders.

Society has stopped children talking to adults and questioning "what are you doing that for mister?" because of a very small percentage of nasty people like Jimmy Savel.

This is a great shame because without the true knowledge and feelings from our elders we are useless and likely to fall off the cliff of life like lemmings.....

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No. No, he has to have power to charge up his nuclear weapons launch code brief case LOL

2 million quid and no back up generator, sad but true.

Politicians are a means to their own end, I have no hope for them.....

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Two ways the somerset levels can go with this , either invest in the largest pumps available 150000 tons per minute , at 300 million a pop or a managed withdrawal from the land and let nature reclaim the flood plain, personally I dont see any other options !! ...

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You missed out resuming proper maintenanace of channels, and perhaps creating new major dykes.Look what the Dutch have done and they are several feet below sea level.It only needs a realisation investment is needed and a will to carry the work out.Here it seems to be the preferred option to witter on about disturbing water voles and newts and abandon great tracts if need be.

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You missed out resuming proper maintenanace of channels, and perhaps creating new major dykes.Look what the Dutch have done and they are several feet below sea level.It only needs a realisation investment is needed and a will to carry the work out.Here it seems to be the preferred option to witter on about disturbing water voles and newts and abandon great tracts if need be.

Sad but true, the water voles are still here in spite of all the drainage and the dredging did to their habitats in the past.

Those rivers and streams need dredging, Wildlife re colonize very quickly, just look at the recovery since we stopped industrial pollution and agricultural/forestry poisons.

What happened is that everything that was good in the past was privatized to save money.

So now all the experienced people have gone never to return and they have taken all they used to pass down to the youngsters with them... A job as important as looking after a river should be passed down to the youngsters as they age themselves in the job.

2 year contracts are the invention of a class of people that choose to regulate to keep people in order. "No certificate no job. Jobs not for life, neither is your house, deal with it"

This is why I hate politicians so much sometimes, they are only there for 10 minutes and its "all change" They are just as bad as those lying bankers.

First its this agency, then that, then its another one with more certificates and more people, fresh out of uni just started shaving telling somebody who was brought up in the area" its going to be far too dangerous over there", give me strength.

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To be honest, I'm not sure how effective dredging will be, some of the reasons why are shown here http://www.ourcityourriver.co.uk/downloads/Dredging%20Leaflet.pdf

 

To increase the flow capacity of the channel much, you would probably need to dredge continuously quite a long way downstream (as the levels are basically flat and near sea level so any constraint would likely reduce flow for a long way upstream), but this may not be possible due to bridges and other constraints where for example widening and deepening the channel may undermine the foundations. The dredged channels may just provide slightly more capacity that isn't enough to cope with any real floods... think of the amount of water on the floodplains at the moment, that won't fit in a channel during flood peaks at least.

 

More likely dredging would destroy the environment/ecosystem of the river with limited benefits.

Also rivers find a natural equilibrium themselves for a certain flow, if you increase the depth the flow velocity slows and more sediment is deposited filling the dredged areas back in, so repeat dredging would be required at increased cost. Also dredging may increase flood peaks to places lower down the river.

Considering the area is basically reclaimed land, it is always going to flood perhaps for extended periods with weather like now, with water being slow to drain away.

 

However on the other hand, because the Somerset Levels are not naturally suitable for agriculture, the rivers perhaps need to be held in an unnatural state to keep the area farmable in the same way as recent times. The rivers there are often modified and straightened anyway with artificial drainage channels too, I doubt I'd mind if the rivers there are dredged if that's what is really needed and it is actually effective.

 

But what I do find annoying is for example, one guy claiming the river Mole in Surrey had been 'mis managed' and it should be dredged ruining the feel, environment and ecology of the river just so his home, which he chose to buy and live in on a floodplain, wouldn't get flooded occasionally in exceptional events (in reality it still would).

If my local river (at home in Devon) was dredged I'd be very annoyed, but that's a different kind of system with a larger gradient and floods recede off fields within a day.. so there would really be no reason for it (but some would probably think it was a good idea somehow, I guess I'm just worried this thing will be spread by people with no geography education or environmental consideration)

In my opinion in the majority of cases rivers shouldn't be dredged just to try and stop floodplains flooding (it would cause problems for downstream locations if they were) Obviously for certain locations in urban areas. or exceptions like the Somerset Levels it may be a different matter.

 

Perhaps a better method (perhaps even used in conjunction with any needed dredging) would be to reduce the amount of water reaching rivers quickly. For example by planting trees along the edges of fields or places runoff is common on the surrounding hills and catchment, as under trees water is absorbed by the ground 67 times faster than on grass..

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/13/flooding-public-spending-britain-europe-policies-homes

http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/river-dredging.html#cr

May be the Guardian or wildlife sites which I get the feeling some may not like so much, but that's where most facts/stories of this kind tend to be.

 

Umm, not sure how I wrote so much really..

Edited by Evening thunder

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One thing is absolutely certain, if this flooding was in and around Chipping Norton it would have been sorted weeks and weeks ago....in fact it would never have been allowed to get to this state in the first place.

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One thing is absolutely certain, if this flooding was in and around Chipping Norton it would have been sorted weeks and weeks ago....in fact it would never have been allowed to get to this state in the first place.

I agree , but chipping norton area is mildly hilly so no real liklihood of floods for the chosen ones !!....

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Perhaps a better method (perhaps even used in conjunction with any needed dredging) would be to reduce the amount of water reaching rivers quickly. For example by planting trees along the edges of fields or places runoff is common on the surrounding hills and catchment, as under trees water is absorbed by the ground 67 times faster than on grass..

 

 

This is the recent trendy 'solution' which George Monbiot has been pushing in The Guardian (as he has a book about it)While there is some sense there, it really wouldn't help much in prolonged flooding like on The Levels.It can help in flash flood scenarios.The idea of causing deliberate waterlogging is unsound as a means to reduce floods; you can't make a sponge soak up water indefinitely - but if you have a part dry sponge it can absorb water.Some of the promoted methods such as leaving logs in watercourses can have negative effects when a large flood washes all the stuff downstream which can block bridge arches.Balancing pools seem a good idea and do not preclude normal use of the deliberately flooded area at other times.Also it is a fallacy to imply the uplands have 'recently' had a lot of trees removed.Upland areas are generally dominated by livestock farms, and have removed very few trees and hedges as they don't need to increase field size to facilitate large arable machinery - and there is far more planted forest in many areas.The uplands were largely deforested in pre-history - typically Bronze Age. 

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Floods: Environment Agency in dredging row

 

The Environment Agency has been criticised as flood-hit areas in south-west England were warned that more floods could be on the way. Farmers in the Somerset Levels - which the Environment Secretary is visiting - have demonstrated against the agency for failing to dredge the rivers. Local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said the agency's reasons for not doing so were "pathetic". There are currently 14 flood warnings across England, and one in Scotland. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is due to meet farmers and council leaders in the Somerset Levels, where a "major incident" has been declared and large areas remain under water. Farmers in the affected area claim flooding has been prolonged by a failure to dredge rivers. The Environment Agency currently has 13 flood warnings in place across England.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25908098

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Been watching the inland sea that has become the Somerset levels on TV with some villages cut off for weeks. Feel sorry for them, looking at the models it's just going to get worse, perhaps a lot worse.

Some villages could be cut off well into Spring.

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