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River training is way to combat floods


Much has been written about the floods affecting Britain. But I see very little about sensibly managing the problem.

Spokespeople from the Environment Agency have been quoted as saying there is nothing they can do and that all this chaos has been caused by 1 in 40 or 1 in 50 year storms. Of course something can be done!

It is a fact that 'we' have reduced the average permeability of the ground which therefore sheds its rainfall more quickly into the rivers. There are at least two ways of tackling this problem.

First, we could recreate the permeability we have lost, but this might be difficult. Secondly we could improve the ability of the rivers to conduct the increased peak flows away - the drainage engineer's equivalent of increasing the pipe size.

This is not so difficult. It would involve selectively deepening or widening channels. It might also include creating side ponds or designating flood plains to reduce the effects of surges. A good example of this is the way Worcester's cricket pitch floods: the resulting silt deposits have created a wonderful, fine turf!

Let us rediscover the art of river training to direct the forces of nature in a way that is convenient to man. We should be designing these for either 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 year events as appropriate. Erecting flood barriers alongside rivers is not the answer.

John Rastall

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