13 Jan 2014

Still waters run deep!

Having been caught by floods in a colleague’s car in 2007, Managing Director Mike Rigby should have known better than risk his own car in the floods last week... 

In 2007, despite driving through shallow flood waters for four hours, we somehow avoided deeper dips and pools in the roads around Tewkesbury and made it back without wrecking the car. The rain was unrelenting and it was falling on already sodden fields and into swollen rivers. Surprisingly quickly, water was everywhere it shouldn’t be, flowing in unexpected directions. Instead of draining off the roads and away, it was pouring in sheets off the fields and the paved drives of homes, and off hard standing around warehouses, factories and offices on to the roads. It was spouting in metre-high fountains from roadside drains as the drainage system backed up. Before long what were roads became rivers and there was no easy way out. Many cars didn’t escape.

Then last Tuesday, trying to find a way through shallow floodwater near Loughborough my luck ran out. Driving slowly along a partially flooded road, I followed the central white line in 15 to 20 cm of still water. Other cars had made it through ahead of me. But they had local knowledge and knew where the road dipped. I discovered the depression too late, when the engine suddenly slowed below a bridge and cut out.

Two hours waiting in the car for assistance gave me time to think about flooding, the case for sustainable drainage and my unjustified confidence in finding a way through! Is the Government also suffering from a case of ‘it will all come out right?’

It seems extraordinary that having ‘rushed’ in The Flood Act of 2010 prompted by turmoil and public disquiet following the 2007 floods, the Government has just announced it is postponing ‘indefinitely’ plans to introduce the new measures from April. It wants time for further discussions on details. The Floods Act obliges builders to implement sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and landscape developments so water from roofs and driveways seeps into open ground rather than pouring into the overloaded drainage system. SuDS should be cheaper in the long run, but implementation is being held up by negotiations over who pays for it. Meanwhile I’m waiting to hear if my car’s a write-off!

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