Fourteen severe flood warnings on The Thames

Swans wander down a flooded street in Worcester

Swans wander down a flooded street in Worcester

areas at risk of flooding on The Thames

areas at risk of flooding on The Thames

David Cameron with troops on Chesil Beach

David Cameron with troops on Chesil Beach

rail lines flooded

rail lines flooded

Although a lull in the storms, more expected over the coming week, the water levels in The Thames have been rising by the hour, and are expected to continue rising throughout the week.

Today, in Berkshire and Surrey, fourteen severe flood warnings on The Thames. There are also two severe flood warnings in the Somerset Levels.

A severe flood warning is when there is risk to life.

Politicians are playing the blame game, though they have backed off today.

We are still hearing calls for dredging of rivers.

Rivers are dredged and canalised for navigation, not flood management. A river that is allowed to meander, form ox bow lakes, overflow into the flood plain, carries more water, than one that has been dredged.

If were are to point fingers of blame, then it has to be at the politicians.

  • they have failed on climate change
  • they have cut money for flood management
  • they have not spent money wisely

The current floods are due to the exceptional rainfall that has fallen since earlier January.

We have to rewild, re-afforest upstream, re-introduce wolves, lynx and beavers, possibly wild boar, retain water upstream.

Beavers create small pools upstream, slw the flow rate, provide cleaner water, enhance wildlife habitats, increase the number of fish.

Records are available for the Wye Valley since 1936. For seventy years, little change in rainfall, a tripling of the incidence of flooding. Over that period, grubbing up of trees, over-grazing of sheep (both paid for and enforced by EU). Since the late 1990s, there has been a policy of Let Sleeping Logs Lie, of not clearing the streams of fallen woodland debris.

Pickering used to flood, the streams were dredged. Now, trees are toppled over into the streams.

The Pontbren Project, a group of farmers in Wales, took it upon themselves, to re-afforest their land. Instead of grubbing out trees, they are planting shelter belts to be used by the sheep. Instead of expensive straw bedding for the sheep, wood chippings. The bedding then used for compost to grow more trees, a closed cycle. Instead of draining boggy patches, creating ponds.

When the water sheets off the land, it gets as far as the trees, then vanishes, sucked down into the ground by the trees. Land covered in trees will absorb 67 times the water, as land covered in grass.

If only 5% of the land at Pontbren were re-afforested, flooding peaks downstream would be reduced by about 30%. Full reforestation would reduce the peaks by about 50%.

For the residents of Shrewsbury, Gloucester and the other towns experiencing flooding by the Severn, were the catchment areas re-afforested, they would probably not be flooded today.

We know from the tropics, cut down trees, those living downstream get flooded. Why have we not learnt those lessons?

The River Wey, starting to flood Guildford last Friday, running very high through Farnham last Saturday, eventually finds it way into The Thames.

Flood management is not the river, flood management is the area that drains into the river.

Republished on Medium with additional notes.

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