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Freak weather damage 'not preventable'

The damage wreaked by the freak weather conditions experienced across parts of the UK this week, which saw up to100mm of rain fall in one day, could not have been prevented by better design, engineers claimed.
But they accepted that it was possible to improve the water drainage rate from urban areas affected this week such as Hull, Selby and parts of Leeds which suffered only surface water flooding according to the Environment Agency.ICE vice president Jean Venables said: 'It has been an extreme event and I don't believe there are any systems that could have coped with all of [the flooding].' But she said that continued investment was needed to ensure that less severe but more frequent flood events could be managed. Lincolnshire suffered both fluvial and surface water flooding, and county council director for highways and traffic Paul Coathup agreed with Venables. 'We've had completely unmanageable volumes of water,' he said. 'Whatever the shortcomings of the urban drainage system, I don't think any improvements could have prevented this.' Responsibility for urban drainage is currently split between local authorities, water companies and the Agency. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is running 15 pilot projects, managed by consultant Halcrow, that aim to improve urban drainage through closer working of its various stakeholders. 'I wouldn't be surprised if one of the causes of surface water-only flooding has been a disconnect between the local authority, water company and the Agency,' said Halcrow associate and urban drainage project manager Elliot Gill. A breakdown in communication between these stakeholders can lead to poor maintenance and a poor understanding of true urban drainage capacity, added Gill. He said that extreme events as seen this week were expected to become more prevalent due to climate change. The pilot schemes accept that design capabilities will be exceeded and look for stakeholders to work together to develop the best ways for water to escape towns, such as the remodelling of roads to act as flood channels.

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