WELCOMING the new Conservative government, ADA has reiterated its continued support in managing and maintaining the UK’s water systems and flood-risk defences. In return, it is looking for the new government to significantly strengthen its position towards the careful but essential maintenance and management of our rivers.
ADA, the representative body for drainage, water level and flood-risk management authorities, has provided political leaders with seven key policy pointers to help reduce the impacts of flood-risk and deliver effective water level management.
ADA chief executive Innes Thomson says, “We welcome the new government and look forward to working with them, alongside risk management authorities and other stakeholders, to help manage flood-risk and deliver water management solutions.
“We have already highlighted the need for a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to dealing with flooding and drought, and now is the time to grasp the opportunity to help better protect people, property and farmland,” he adds.
In particular, ADA calls for funding and policy rule changes to avoid leaving communities, farms and villages undefended, isolated and unsupported. Allied to this, there is a key need to discuss the controlled storage of water on land and provide the right incentives to landowners and farmers.
“Crucially, local Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) can play a significant role in assisting on how farmland can be used to trap, store and evacuate flood water, with the right infrastructure in place,” continues Mr Thomson.
“This infrastructure, such as adapting pumping stations or installing temporary pumps to evacuate water post-event, is critical and in our lowland areas could be reasonably operated and maintained by local IDBs,” adds Mr Thomson.
ADA also calls for a government flood policy and funding that can support conveyance and resilient river embankments which control water in lowland watercourses.
Mr Thomson says, “Conveyance is a broader topic than simply dredging. It also includes aquatic and vegetation control within the river and its banks, and the stability of the banks themselves. Removing targeted constrictions in lowland rivers must also be undertaken where there are obvious adverse effects on river flows.”
ADA insists all measures must be part of a catchment approach to flood resilience, working alongside SuDS (sustainable drainage systems), soil management, traditional defences, upstream attenuation, flood storage areas or washlands, and slow the flow initiatives.
Mr Thomson concludes, “With the help of new policies and strengthened flood risk strategy, ADA will work to help and ensure that all parties fully understand and engage with the issues facing the flood and water level management sector in a post-Brexit environment.”
ADA’s seven key policy asks for better drainage, water level and flood risk management
- Long term investment horizons in the face of climate change challenges – Flood risk management delivers enduring benefits and authorities involved need to be able to plan ahead financially over multiple years and need to receive a sensible balance of capital and revenue funding, spread across the river catchments, in order to find efficiencies through climate change adaptation and resilience, and attract business investment.
- Promote co-operation and partnership working to manage the water environment and reduce flood risk – Close cooperation between flood risk management authorities, water companies, communities, business and land managers needs the continued strong support of government to deliver adaptive and resilient flood risk maintenance and similar activities more efficiently and affordably.
- Total catchment management – Total catchment management is now the widely accepted approach to managing our water and now is the time to increase and empower local professionals and communities to manage and operate these catchments together.
- Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) – The new government needs to fully implement Schedule 3 of the Flood & Water Management Act 2010, to ensure future development can keep pace with the challenges of the changing climate, by ensuring that SuDS are maintained over the lifetime of a development.
- Support local governance in flood and water level management decision making – In some parts of England there is an appetite for greater local maintenance delivery on watercourses and flood defence assets than that currently afforded from national investment. This can be achieved via the careful transfer of some main river maintenance to local bodies or the expansion of areas maintained by those local bodies, such as Internal Drainage Boards, where there is local support and transitional funding.
- Local Government Finances – It is vital that Special and Local Levy funding mechanisms for drainage, water level and flood risk management continue to be part of this funding landscape to maintain the democratic link with local communities affected.
- Brexit: Ensuring a resilient regulatory framework for the water environment – The new government needs to provide clear policy messages about how they wish to make the delivery of environmental improvements to the water environment easier and more effective as we transition from European legislation such as the Water Framework Directive.