Friday, January 10, 2014

Singing in the rain


and welcome to a New Year flood special which, in the grand manner of Hello magazine, Ok, Nuts and Top Tits (I think that’s correct) is picture based with little real content.

The river is now higher than it was in the winter of 2000/2001 which was sold as a “one in one hundred years” flood,

So that’s one in the eye for the statisticians.....or else time has really flown.

It may not provide much succour if you currently have a brace of barbel picking dainties from your living room carpet and you are forced to live in the loft, but conditions such as these give the river environment a huge fillip. At home, Twenty four hours after the last band of rain, the water has fined down a tad to reveal gleaming gravels on most reaches.

Groundwater ditches are now running strongly and will lift the river further in the coming days. Some in the neighbouring village have been caught out and ditches that should have been cleared in the autumn hold all manner of detritus that prevents water from getting away. The football pitch is unplayable and will remain so for the remainder of the season, an event that has not occurred for some years, and once dry fields have become valleys conveying groundwater across ruined crops to the river.

For those who take in this written rubbish and have also fished here, the bottom bends are completely underwater, the water level is just about getting under the bridge above Wells Ride, the whole of the fishing bank around The rutlet is underwater and the spring ditch that feeds into Flash Hole is a raging torrent as the river has burst its banks on the meadows above and makes its way fifty yards across the meadow to the top of the spring ditch to rattle back to the Dever. In the summer of 2001 the Dever never looked so good with sparkling gravel and luxuriant weed growth, particularly ranunculus, and a wizened keeper remarked that after a winter like that, even the most incompetent keeper would look good. This summer could well be the same. To say most keepers are singing in the rain is an understatement.

Mention must be made of the Environment Agency Live Flood warning map. It’s really good! updated on a regular basis, and lists in fine detail at three different levels of severity river flooding and also groundwater flooding, take a look it’s really interesting, but then I am a bit of a flood nerd.

During conditions such as these the dichotomy that exists within the Environment Agency becomes apparent. One department maintain and construct coastal flood defences while another department would tear them down, one department would have the river channel cleared of all obstructions and would rail at the suggestion of “woody debris” another department would have us fling as much wood into the river as possible. It must make for some interesting meetings and an internal power struggle developing over certain issues.

It was announced on the news today that a delegation within the building and property development industry have beseeched government to ease restrictions on the disposal of waste water on substantial new development. Currently for developers to earn the highest possible “eco” rating and subsequently receive favourable treatment they are required to dispose of waste water locally, somewhere near the development by soak-away or ponds in order to return the water from whence it came rather than pipe it away in a main sewer,

hear hear says I

but No, No says the developer,

who cite expense and problems with system functionality,

what if it bungs up and starts to smell?

What if it overflows?

As one who suffered with dodgy drains and an iffy soak-away for quite some years, if you are aware of the problem it doesn’t half focus the mind as to how often you flush the loo, how deep you run the bath, or how many downpipes could take a water butt, in order to prevent a plethora of tomato seedlings developing in a particular flowerbed each spring. Currently many are oblivious as to where their water comes from, where it goes to, or how precious a commodity it is, a community soak-away with fancy reedbed and pond would not only raise awareness of what water does, where it come s from and where it goes but also help offset environmental impact of any development.

On a similar note, despite sustained social engagement and completely missing most mornings, Child B has managed to complete his second assignment; several thousand words on a housing development in Wales, that I was asked to read through for mistakes (he obviously hasn’t read this) It concerned an urban housing development in what would have been described as a deprived area. The successful bidder for the development had pitched a "high eco" set up with solar panels very much to the fore and a big boiler at the centre of the piece, run on wood chips. On completion it received a five star rating, energy bills for each household would be £10 a week compared to the national average of £30 -£40 per week and gongs were duly dished out. Three years on things had gone somewhat awry. The wood chip boiler suffered from supply problems and many of the occupants of the houses when presented with cheaper energy bills chose to leave the heating on for a few more hours, purchased an extensive range of exterior Christmas lights and furnished every room with a forty inch plasma and an electrically powered massage chair.

They were accustomed to paying a particular amount for power, so used their cheaper power accordingly. Education is everything and if the message doesn’t get across the desired effect does not result, The development retained its High Eco rating, because there is no requirement for it to be reassessed at a later date.

Educate on water, particularly in the South East of England, because at the moment too many people just don't get it.

And I mean that most sincerely folks!

Wasn't too bad was it Dr Li?

didn't get too grumpy?

I know I had a wobbly moment somewhere around the middle bit but I feel the visualisation technique that you taught me directed me to calmer waters.


Martin Roberts said...

In case you aren't an avid Guardian reader, have a look at this interesting article on how our splendid EA is actively spending money on policies that encourage more flooding.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Thanks for that Martin,

I am not an avid Guardian reader, although the lady who sleeps on my left dips in and out as she works in education.

couldn't agree more! .......I think

The article raises some interesting points.

A holistic approach to river catchment management that takes in geology,land management and the influence of the urban environment has to be the way forward.

struggling to find a paper that suits my current bent so am sticking to Viz

thanks again for reading the rubbish that I write

Chris de Cani