10 Golden Rules for Managing Floods – Canvey Island Pass or Fail?

The recent storms and flooding that has affected ours and other regions of the UK, has meant valuable resources being distributed in a reactive fashion rather than a preventive strategic led approach to spending.

Locally there was the expectation that the 2013 and 2014 flooding at Canvey Island and the ensuing high level Report would lead to Government funding being allocated to the tune of £24,500,000 so that the Island’s drainage would be brought up to an acceptable standard.

Flooding in other areas and a long list of outstanding flood prevention work has put paid to the Canvey drainage improvements.

A report has been released suggesting a strategic approach focussing on 10 golden rules. As Canvey Island is prone to surface water flooding and at Risk from Tidal Flooding, all 10 Golden Rules should apply.

How many of these 10 golden rules Fail locally?

With many families across the UK still dealing with the consequences of last winter’s flooding, the International Journal of River Basin Management has just published 10 ‘golden rules’ for strategic flood management (SFM).

Written by an international team of experts, the study provides an overview of emerging good practice in strategic flood management (SFM), as well as a historical overview of the events – like the Boxing Day tsunami – that have changed approaches to flood management forever. It also discusses the purpose and goals of today’s SFM and the inevitable challenges associated with its implementation.

While the authors acknowledge the ‘remarkable progress in cultivating the concepts of flood risk management’ that has taken place over the last few decades, they also recognise that ‘the challenge now is to turn the now commonly accepted concepts of managing risks and promoting opportunities into common flood-management practice’.

The authors argue that SFM can play a pivotal role in promoting desired ‘societal, environmental and economic outcomes’. In contrast to the often narrowly defined single-objective nature of flood control, they observe that SFM places an emphasis not only on reducing risk (to people, economics and the environment) but also on seeking opportunities to working with natural processes and promoting multiple benefits across a range of criteria (ecological, societal and economic).

Sound flood management planning requires an effective collaborative solution, which ‘blurs the distinction between the disciplines of spatial, coastal zone, river basin and water resources planning as well as flood defence engineering and environmental management.’

The research concludes with a list of 10 ‘golden rules’ that are central to achieving sound SFM in practice. These are:

1. Accept that absolute protection is not possible and plan for exceedance.
2. Promote some flooding as desirable.
3. Base decisions on an understanding of risk and uncertainty.
4. Recognize that the future will be different from the past.
5. Do not rely on a single measure, but implement a portfolio of responses.
6. Utilize limited resources efficiently and fairly to reduce risk.
7. Be clear on responsibilities for governance and action.
8. Communicate risk and uncertainty effectively and widely.
9. Promote stakeholder participation in the decision-making process.
10. Reflect local context and integrate with other planning processes.

(For further explanation of these ’10 golden rules’ please view the full article online)

This fascinating paper is the result of extensive international collaboration, and draws on evidence from around the world. It comprehensively discusses all of the challenges of dealing with flood risk and water management in large-scale and complex environments; and it is essential reading for all water management professionals and government officials seeking to manage and mitigate the risk of future flooding.

Read the full article, free of charge, online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15715124.2014.902378

“Strategic flood management: ten ‘golden rules’ to guide a sound approach”, by Paul Sayers et al., International Journal of River Basin Management, 2014, published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.


3 responses to “10 Golden Rules for Managing Floods – Canvey Island Pass or Fail?

  1. Steve Sawkins

    Not to worry I am sure that CPBC contributed towards the work being undertaken below, We expect answers in due course.

    27 January 2016 .
    The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into future flood prevention in England following severe flooding this winter.
    Inquiry: Future flood prevention
    Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

    Flooding has affected many areas this winter, costing communities more than £5 billion to date and disrupting thousands of peoples’ lives and businesses. Record rainfall fell in many areas and the consequent floods overwhelmed defences in some places.

    Chair’s comments
    Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Committee, says:
    “Flood damage of the sort suffered by communities across the UK this winter is becoming all-too-frequent an occurrence. I know from personal experience how flooding can damage not only buildings, land and infrastructure, but how it can also devastate lives.

    Questions need to be answered about whether there are adequate measures in place to plan for frequent, extreme flood events. We want to see how effectively the Environment Agency predicts and prepares for floods in a changing climate. We will also be asking how far Defra policies protect communities in high risk areas from future devastation.”

    Terms of reference
    The Committee invites written evidence on four key topics:
    Predicting the future: Are the Environment Agency and Met Office models that predict rainfall patterns and the likelihood of future floods fit for purpose – and do they correctly calculate the costs of future flooding to communities?
    Protecting communities and infrastructure: How adequately do defences protect communities and agricultural land from floods and do current funding arrangements target spending in the right way?
    Managing water flows: How effectively do Defra and the Environment Agency’s policies encourage innovative approaches to managing risk such as slowing the flow of water in urban and rural river catchment areas and promoting water storage?

    Planning for floods: How well do planning policies ensure new buildings are not put in areas of high flood risk nor where they would increase risk to others – and how well do new developments incorporate sustainable drainage and flood-resilient buildings?

    As part of this inquiry, the Committee will look at flood insurance. With the new Flood Re scheme coming into operation in April, written evidence is also welcome on how accessible and affordable flood insurance will be for businesses as well as householders covered by the scheme.

    *The inquiry will focus on the prediction and prevention of floods in England as flood issues are devolved but comparative information on policies and practices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are welcome.

    Written submissions can be sent via the future flood prevention inquiry page

    Notes on submissions

    As a guideline submissions should state clearly who the submission is from e.g. ‘Written evidence submitted by xxxxx’ and be no longer than 1500 words, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this. Submissions must be a self-contained memorandum in Word or Rich Text Format (not pdfs). Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary.

    Deadline for submissions
    Submissions should arrive by midday on Tuesday 15 March 2016

  2. You should send this to the Castle Point Council Emergency Planner and Chief Executive

  3. Thanks Stan / Steve for your responses.
    The Inquiry you mention Steve contains an interesting paragraph

    “As part of this inquiry, the Committee will look at flood insurance. With the new Flood Re scheme coming into operation in April, written evidence is also welcome on how accessible and affordable flood insurance will be for businesses as well as householders covered by the scheme.”

    The Flood RE scheme website FAQ’s state “Why hasn’t the scope of Flood Re been extended to include properties built after 2009?
    The reason for maintaining 2009 as the cut-off point is to ensure continuity with the Statement of Principles which did not apply to properties built after 1st January of that year. Flood Re should incentivise rigorous and responsible planning decisions.”
    I am certain with his experience of late, the CPBC Chief Executive and officers would have been willing participants into the now closed DEFRA Inquiry.

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