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Date: 08 March 2014

Today's Topic: Flooding on the Somerset Levels. Evidence for Dredging

Triggers: BBC News Report

My Grump: I thought ostriches lived in Africa, but no, they are living in the UK and most are employed by the Environment Agency.

Come on guys and gals of the Environment Agency, you cannot bury your head in the sand any longer, now we have proof.
Bridge at Burrowbridge in the 60's A + B = C. These photos are of the same location in Burrowbridge, Somerset. The top photo is from the 1960's. Notice how the river is clear and free to flow at whatever speed it needs to flow to drain the surrounding area.

Bridge at Burrowbridge 2013 The second picture is presumably from last year because the sun is shining.

And the third picture is now, 2014, at the time of the flood. The water is all trying to flow down the tiniest little channel in the middle of the river. Supermarket trollies, fallen trees and millions of square metres of mud now block the river.
Bridge at Burrowbridge Flooded 2014
I don't know about raising the roads (see latest proposals to the Government below), what we could do is raise the bridges to let more water through. That's nearly as daft as the raise the road idea below.

Too many 'experts' want to push forward their own area of expertise, instead of looking at what's practical. Raising the roads doesn't solve the problem. Much of the Somerset Levels is under 13ft (4m) of water. The houses will be submerged, probably even deeper now, to accommodate the extra displaced water.

The bit that annoys me is that some clown on the TV (I can't remember who you were, otherwise I'd name you), said, 'well if we dredge, we just make a problem further down the line'. I've got a primary school answer for you, START AT THE SEA AND WORK YOUR WAY BACK UP THE RIVER.

The answer lies in dredging and pumping. These two things MOVE WATER, the source of the problem. Raising roads, providing sandbags, boats and amphibious vehicles are window dressing to a problem that already exists. They are NOT the solution.

On a lighter note.

Army? We need the Navy Water weighs 1 ton per square metre. If you scrape out 1 square metre of bank, and the river moves at 1 meter per second, you are removing from the surrounding area, and out to sea, 1 ton of water per second. As long as the square metre in front of the upstream metre is also removed the 1 metre per second is maintained. This is from the start of the rain until the end of the threat of a flood.

Every square metre of water that has gone past point zero, and is now part of the sea, can now be discounted. The square metre of space that is now moved on is free to drain the land behind it, at the rate of 1 metre per second, or 1 ton per second.

This applies across the width of the river, the depth of the river, and the other bank of the river. Every square metre of mud removed = 1 ton of water x the speed of the river in metres per second, moved out to sea.
The Navy to the Rescue at Burrowbridge
Now we must address the concerns of the other idiots who talk about kingfishers, otters, voles, and other wildlife that will be impacted by dredging. Our own neglect has created these environments, the birds and mammals have moved in to take advantage of our neglect, which is evidence of their adaptability, not their weakness.

We either re-create these environments in the feed ditches to the rivers, or the wildlife will adapt to the new environment, in just the same way that they adapted to the artificial, and changing environment we have allowed to develop up to now.

Get a grip you people, nature finds a way, and for the most part, without your help or 'superior' knowledge. Our mistake is ever thinking that nature is fragile. Nature is adaptable and srong. How do you think humans survived? We live from hot, dry, deserts, to cold, frozen, wet, ice sheets. Based on your logic, we should be extinct.

To the spirit of the people of Somerset, I honour you all. As one of you Somerset folk (I'm Somerset born and bred), I honour your courage and your resilience in the face of desolation. You will prevail and with persistence you will get justice and action you need to make this right.

Latest News, 5th March 2014:
A new Bridgwater barrage as part of the 100m Somerset flood plan.

A tidal barrage at Bridgwater to hold back the highest tides, and dredging on the Somerset Levels form part of a 100m plan to combat flooding. Villages on the Levels have been cut off for more than two months following the wettest winter on record.

Prime Minster David Cameron has said that "money is no object" (I don't believe you Mr C) in sorting out the current flooding problems. 100m will put that pledge to the test big time. But remember, the barrage would take around 15 years before that could be built and completed. So the lovely number of 100m is now already down to 6m in any one year.

A new 20-year Flood Action Plan, which is due to be presented to the government, goes in to detail on a number of measures to prevent a repeat of this winter's floods. It lists actions that could either help prevent flooding, or reduce the impact when it happens, and gives some idea of costs and ease with which they could be done. The government has already pledged 10m in support for Somerset, but the report suggests 10 times that amount will be needed over the next decade alone.

The report also suggests the A361 and routes into cut-off communities - including Muchelney - are raised, but adds that this will require further investigation. This is baloney. Did anyone see the pictures of the flooding above car roofs? Which means some roads will need raising nearly 5 feet. Don't talk rubbish, this ain't gonna happen.

The report also includes repairs to around 28 miles of flood-affected roads, resurfacing them with more flood resilient material. But the truth is this would not be necessary if the area didn't flood and so is good money chasing a bad long-term solution.

The report includes plans previously announced to dredge five miles (8km) of the rivers Tone and Parrett - restoring them to their condition in the 1960s. It estimates this should start at the end of the month and that it will cost more than 5.5m and then 1.2m each year to maintain.

At the end of the day, it will be found that strategically placed pumping stations that are turned on when the rains start will be the most cost effective measure of all. So get the hell on with it!

A note to governments and builders.
If you are going to build on flood plains, you need to build houses on stilts. At least this will give the people that choose to live there the chance to get insurance. This would be a simple requirement in new builds, give useful storage areas under houses, and a better view of the local area.

Please share your thoughts below, thank you.

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