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For Wetter or Worse

What can we do to be more prepared for flooding in the future? Civils 2007 may offer some solutions.

Floods hit homes and commercial properties in Britain every year, but last summer's events seem to have caught people more unawares than ever. They have also increased calls for a more coordinated approach.

"Five million people in 2M properties - as well as 380,000 commercial businesses - are at risk of flooding from a 1:100 year event," explains Jim Barrack, director of flood defence manufacturer Tilt-Dam.

"As engineers we understand what 1:100 means, but for these people, all they know is that suddenly you get flooded.

"The aspect that I think is really disrespectful to people is telling them to make their houses resilient: protect it by tiling and putting the plugs higher, and put your valuable possessions upstairs," he adds.

"It's a cop-out. From a civil engineering point of view I think people have got a right to be protected against flooding instead of being told they should just live with it."

Barrack's fellow director John Willbourne adds: "Nobody will accept coordinated responsibility for flooding. It seems to be split between highway maintenance, local authorities, the Environment Agency, flood boards and estuary protection boards.

"Somebody needs to take the problem and go forward with a coordinated solution so that at least the utilities are protected so we can get fresh water and power."
Tilt-Dam has developed what it describes as a "permanent demountable" flood defence system, as opposed to the "temporary demountable" systems used in places like Bewdley and Upton-on-Severn. Essentially the system consists of a concrete trench with a counterbalanced tilting lid which, under normal conditions, becomes part of the house frontage, path or road. In the event of a flood, the lid is rotated to the vertical forming a defence wall.Up to 60m can be erected in an hour.

It's ideal where you don't want something permanently in place but you want something permanently there to put in place when you get the flood warning," explains Barrack.

Jim Barrack will explain more about Tilt-Dam in a technical seminar at 11.45am on Thursday 22nd November in the Blue Theatre at Civils 2007. The company will also be displaying the equipment and demonstrating how it works at Stand C2.

Free technical seminars run throughout Civils 2007 in three purpose-built theatres.

Highlights this year include:

Can we cope with flooding and climate change? Professor David Balmforth and Dr Chris Digman, MWH Global (13.45, Thursday, 22nd November, Blue Theatre)

Avoiding health and safety risks when fixing to concrete
Derek Brown, Halfen (10.30, Tuesday 20th November, Red Theatre and 10.30, Thursday 22nd November, Blue Theatre)

Static and dynamic monitoring of civil engineering structures by a novel microwave sensor, Giulia Bernardini, IDS SPA (15.30, Tuesday 20th November, Red Theatre)

A full list of technical seminars can be viewed at

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