Michael White AWMS' Business Development Director

Government must invest in flood defence systems

  • 17 Dec 2015

Michael White, Business Development Director of Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) addresses the lack of Government initiatives to prevent flooding.

Carlisle is in the news again. What was supposed to be a one in 100 year flooding event has happened three times in the last ten years. 

In 2005 1,844 properties were flooded and three people died. In November 2009, a daily record of rain fell on Cumbria causing widespread flooding across the county. One person lost their life, 2,239 properties and 3,057 businesses were affected. 

A £6m flood defence wall was built in Carlisle to withstand the 2009 highs of 15.2 feet but in the latest flooding the River Greta surged to 17.4 feet, overwhelming the new defences. 

Carlisle floodedThe Environment Agency said at least 8,600 homes had been protected over the weekend and even though water poured over the top of some flood defences, they had provided vital extra time for emergency services to evacuate homes. 

That may be, but in Carlisle’s misery there is little patience with what sounds like excuses for a problem not solved. Particularly as the Government put 300 other flood defence schemes on hold in the area because they were dubbed “low priority”. 

Flooding is becoming more frequent and more severe in the UK as climate change increases the frequency of storms and the intensity of extreme rainfall.

No party or Government has prepared for this. Our response nationally is patchwork and piecemeal. So far, the costs have mainly been in disruption, in infrastructure and property rather than lives. We cannot expect that to continue. 

Yet, we are still building for yesterday when the climate was more predictable and less volatile. Flooding, torrential rain and disabling storms are still considered rare events. But they are not, and we have to start building for the real world. Building for yesterday is hugely expensive. And it’s a great deal more costly when we factor in the extent and regularity of the inevitable misery, disruption in lives and business, and the expense of clean-up and repair. 

Managing water successfully in today’s construction environment means thinking differently: rain to drain – from roof to surface water and below, so water can be channelled in a controlled and non-destructive manner to drain safely away. 

Water’s journey cuts across normal boundaries and responsibilities in building, and solving the problem and changing how we build requires many different people to work together in a more integrated way than they are used to: roofers, engineers, specifiers, surveyors, contractors, builders and builders’ merchants. 

In this industry we focus on problems we can address directly, in construction itself. But many of the problems we need to address are further upstream. Our solutions can only be part of integrated solutions on a broader scale. 

Changing how we build will take time, but there is no other way. That’s why we merged the four water management brands in Alumasc into AWMS to make one joined up brand and an integrated solution. 

The first sentence of the UK Government’s National Security Strategy document begins: “The floods of 2007…” 

Government has yet to practice what it preaches, but it is slowly sinking in. Prevention is a lot less expensive than clean up and cure. 

Leave a Reply

Latest news

Delta

Delta Launch New, 135-Page Product Brochure

Delta’s new 135-page catalogue is packed full of products, featuring helpful product information which includes handy estimating guides and coverage rates.

Posted in Articles, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Building Services, Damp & Waterproofing, Facility Management & Building Services, Innovations & New Products, Membranes, Publications, Retrofit & Renovation

EJOT

EJOT survey reveals ‘quick win’ opportunity for envelope quality improvements

Virtually no roofing and cladding installers regard self-drilling fastener seal testing as the priority when working on building envelope installations, according to a survey by EJOT UK.

Posted in Articles, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Facades, Research & Materials Testing, Restoration & Refurbishment, Retrofit & Renovation, Roofs, Walls

Keyline

Civils Professional All Set for London Marathon 2022

The National Sales Director for Keyline Civils Specialist, the UK’s leading supplier of civils and drainage materials, is set to run the London Marathon.

Posted in Articles, Building Industry Events, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Building Services, Charity work, Drainage, Drainage Services, Drainage, Guttering, Soffits & Fascias

ROCKWOOL

ROCKWOOL® launches the UK’s most thermally efficient stone wool for cavity walls

ROCKWOOL has launched NyRock® Cavity Slab 032, providing specifiers with a low lambda, non-combustible stone wool slab for full and partial fill masonry cavities.

Posted in Articles, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Building Services, Facility Management & Building Services, Insulation, Retrofit & Renovation, Sustainability & Energy Efficiency, Walls