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More of summer floods caused by rivers admits EA

More of the summer floods were caused by rivers overtopping than previously admitted, a senior Environment Agency figure has said.

Speaking at NCE's "Future of Flood Management" conference this week, David Rooke, EA's head of flood defence, changed tack over the reasons for the extensive flooding this summer.

"We do accept that the backing up of drains was in some cases due to high river levels," he said.

In it's own inquiry into the summer floods, released on December 6, the Environment Agency said, that two-thirds of the flooding over the summer was due to 'surface water', or pluvial water, overwhelming drains and sewers.

Chairman Sir John Harman had said, "Two-thirds of the properties flooded during summer were damaged because drains and sewers were overwhelmed, and there is complexity of who is responsible for surface water flooding."

Rooke's admission suggests that this two-thirds figure is inaccurate, and that a much greater proportion of flood water came from rivers overtopping.

Rooke did point out that the additional river water would have come from rain, and so could still be classified as 'surface water'.

Richard Ashley, Professor of Urban Water at Sheffield University has consistently challenged the EA's 'two-thirds' figure.

"The Environment Agency has been promulgating this myth since the summer. This is the first time they have admitted the truth," he said.

The Environment Agency's report into the summer floods also fed into Sit Michael Pitt's 'Learning Lessons' report, which carried the figure unaltered.

"Around two-thirds of the flooding in summer 2007 was due to surface water and this was a particular problem during June," it reads on page 15.

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