Somerset dredging Harvey June 2014
I have just been watching the dredging videos. All they are doing is scraping the grass off the top of the silt that is blocking the river. What this does to the wildlife and water voles !! When there is a thunderstorm the exposed soil will wash into the river and block it again. They need to remove the soil/silt that is underneath the diggers and deepen the channel starting from the bottom end of the river. The banks will then need reinforcing with willow hurdles or similar - please don’t use wire.
Increasing the river flow will pile the water up at Bridgwater where the wharves are already being undermined by the river - they cannot take any more.
Please open up Dunball and the sluice to double the amount of drainage from the levels. Was the sluice open during the floods? Why did they need pumps to carry water over the dam wall if the sluice was open. Clear the other weirs and restricted bridges. Did this cause the floods in the first place?
Full story on web site.
Dunball Harvey June 2041
Could somebody, preferably a farmer or somebody who speaks the right language, go to the gravel yard at Dunball and ask the lads in the yard if the sluice was open during the floods. They might not talk to anybody official. It would be very interesting.
Bridgwater barrage Harvey June 2014
The barrage at Dunball does not seem to work. Please use a different design - one that does not require anyone to operate it and requires minimum maintenance. Mechanical “assets” that I have seen do not seem to work when required. How about a set of single canal lock gates operated by the tide.
EA contractors Harvey June 2014
River clearance used to be carried out with local contractors employed by the local council, even the angling club, etc, but since 1996 this has all been centralized by the EA. This has put 2 or 3 noughts on the end of the bill so now we cannot afford it. European legislation, etc has also made the paper trail ridiculous, employing lots of expensive university graduates and government officials, to do the simple job of preventing flooding as used to be done locally as required. People who work on the rivers know what is the best way to control them from training and experience - you cannot learn everything from behind a desk. Let the local contractors, instructed by local “water bailiffs”, advised by the EA, do the work at sensible cost all across the country. The work is now all done by 6 main contractors who are sharing £2.5 billion of work over the next 4 years. This is called “The National Contractors Framework”.
Flood banks Harvey June 2014
Building flood banks to push water back into a river is basically a flawed idea (King Canute tried). It works initially but after several cycles of dredging and raising the banks you finish up with a “raised drainage channel”. This channel without maintenance then silts up and the water overflows to the wrong side of the bank and then cannot drain back into river. Take the plug out of the bath to stop it overflowing. See ‘How dredging works’ on the main site and St Asaph where a lady was drowned in her own home.
Silt Harvey June 2014
Silt from rivers makes very good soil. The Somerset levels were originally peat and by spreading silt became good agricultural land. Similarly on the banks of the River Nile and its delta 1000s of years ago. Give the silt to the farmers to spread on the land (using muck spreaders). This will improve the soil and raise ground levels over time.
Gravel Harvey June 2014
The gravel that could be dredged from upland rivers is a valuable resource (worth about £18 per ton on the bank) but the EEC class it as waste. A concrete mixing plant dredged the River Ure for it’s gravel supplies taking up to 80,000 tons per annum for many years until the EA stopped it. This gravel now washes down to York where the river is now getting blocked (ask the boat owner) and flooding is increasing. According to the operators, when the dredgers were working you could see the fish gathering round the bucket having a real feast. Any small wildlife collected was washed back into the river from the screens.
Himalayan Balsam Harvey June 2014
Some years ago somebody started fencing the rivers to stop the animals poaching the banks. This also stopped them eating the weeds that grew there. Him balsam spread up these corridors. The balsam covers the ground, kills the grass and leaves bare earth to wash into the river when it floods (similar to the dredging on the Somerset levels). This is a problem where I live - see main site.
Environment Agency prototype tool for flood risk assessment framework Harvey June 2014
Another bright idea from the EA - more paperwork. It is about managing flood risk areas. Full of big words and unreadable. Please clear the rivers.
Flood water storage dams Harvey June 2014
During the last few years the EA has been building dams, with a hole in the bottom for the river, in the head waters of a river to hold flood water, they then do nothing to the river below which continues silting up.
I visited the dam at West Auckland on the River Gaunless and talked to the farmer who now lives at one end of the dam. There had one day’s heavy rain previously and there was a line of debris about 2m from the top of the 15m? high dam. According to the farmer all the rubbish in the valley above, including 2 sheep and some chickens, had floated down to the grid covering the outlet and blocked it. The flood water then rose up the dam and was approaching the farmers house. He was not happy. Fortunately the rain stopped.
About 500m below the dam the river flows under the A68 through 2 flat culverts. One is virtually blocked with silt. The owner of the cottage above the bridge has planted some new trees in the bank blocking the bridge to stop people looking into his garden. The flood water left the river top side of the bridge - onto the road and down to West Auckland. 2 men and a wheelbarrow could clear this in a day.
There is now a £10m dam at Ripon which some of us think is on the wrong river.
The EA is to build a dam at Pickering. The old bridge in Pickering is 23m wide (partially blocked) whereas the river upstream is now 3m wide.
Gripping the moors Harvey June 2014
I live in the Yorkshire Dales and for many years the government has been encouraging land owners to drain the moors - gripping. We found out years ago that this caused local flooding, the flood water now comes down in hours instead of days. Now the EA is trying to block the moorland drains but they are too big. They are trying sphagnum moss in Derbyshire - I hope it works.
Log dams Harvey June 2014
Above Pickering the latest idea is to place logs and brushwood in the headwater streams to hold water back. In time these will either fill with silt and the water run over or will collapse and block the next bridge.
Gatwick airport Harvey June 2014
Gatwick flooded in 2013 costing a fortune and much disruption. 350m upstream on the river Mole the bank has collapsed or just silted up. This would not help in flood times. See Gatwick on main site.
Old mills and weirs Harvey June 2014
On many rivers there are old weirs, sometimes with the mills, that cause obstructions. These are now redundant but are still causing flooding in places. Often the overflow round the weir has become the new river and the river itself is distorted missing the local bridge. See Thirsk, Pickering,
Building in river beds Harvey June 2014
There is much talk of building in flood plains but many rivers are narrowed by actually building in the old river bed. I always go by the width of the nearest old stone bridge and if this is translated up and down stream this is very clear. The biggest offenders are industrial estates and car parks along with council sports facilities. They always build flood banks to protect themselves as far into the river as they dare. The other offender is riverside properties who extend their gardens to the waters edge and then build a wall, this has happened on most of the Thames. I have even found the EA narrowing the river with flood banks. See Ripon, Cockermouth, etc
EA whistleblowers Harvey June 2014
Log on to http://insidetheenvironmentagency.co.uk The stories that are in here are frightening - no wonder we are flooding. If only half of these are true we are in trouble. I once worked in a university as a self employed builder and found the same stories first hand and the cost of the jobs, by competitive tendering, were about 5 times what I would normally charge.
Clearing drains Harvey June 2014
The some old drains in Pateley Bridge, my home town, were blocked so I found the council drainage department. The only man there could do nothing as he only had a budget of £3000 for the year. Admittedly all work was contracted out but this was too expensive for clearing old drains.
Philip Dilley Harvey June 2014
To be the next chairman of the EA. If he can control the Arup Group employing 11000 people he should be able to sort out this job. Please back him as he is our best bet. There has been talk of foxes and hen runs on Twitter but if flooding is reduced and costs controlled who are we to grumble.