Listen to the people to stop flood menace

From: Kenneth Smart, Swanland, East Yorkshire.

THE debate about the best way to alleviate flooding continues, but no one appears to be looking at the management of the water table which is a major component of the present problems.

Historically, domestic water was sourced from wells, urban as well as rural areas. Over the years large pumping stations were introduced in urban areas and now most rural areas use piped water instead of wells. This system reduced the level of the water table in the summer allowing much of the winter rainfall to be absorbed in the aquifer.

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More recently the extracting of water from the aquifer has been reduced with many areas sourcing most of the water from rivers. This has meant that the water table has remained relatively high in the summer, which reduces the ability for the winter rain to be absorbed into the aquifer.

Regarding the question of dredging the rivers, in my opinion, this would also lower the water table in the summer. Farmers used to have well-maintained underground field drains, this allowed excess water to enter drains taking the water to the rivers. The now higher bed of rivers, due to lack of dredging, precludes this. Dredging would allow a much better flow of this water into the rivers during the summer, thereby reducing the water table.

I am an elderly layman in this matter, but have seen many of the above changes. What do the water and irrigation engineers think?

From: Jarvis Browning, Main Street, Fadmoor, York.

MAY I congratulate Peter B Knaggs for his well written letter (Yorkshire Post, February 1). I would have said the same thing too. It is about time that Defra and Environment Agency got off their rears and work with the land owners and farmers who work the land along the river banks. It is time they listened to local knowledge and experience, when all tributaries and rivers where dredged out to the estuaries.

The same applies to the dreadful state of the roads, where a layman would keep the water off the roads. Too many chiefs, managers and not enough manual workers to carry the jobs out.

Surely maintaining is better than costly repairing?

From: Derek Curson, Ennerdale Drive, Elland, West Yorkshire.

ON the Today programme (January 31), I heard the unbelievable assertion of a poor flood-dweller that one reason for the inundation of his area was that the local council (hill dweller?) had in former dry times, sold-off all the expensive and effective, river-dredging equipment.

This sounds exactly what a modern-day politician would be capable of – line his own pockets and trust that Noah holds back the floods.

Some 1,500 years ago, King Alfred hid from the insurgent Vikings in these very waters (now the Somerset Levels) and he later became a Great king. Thirteen hundred years ago, Hereward the Wake taunted William the First in his fenland hideaway near Ely and delayed the conqueror’s accession. Both these areas were later drained by local farmers and far-sighted business men to enable crops to grow, animals to graze and people to live, according to their own standards.

We now have been returned to the standards of pre-Conquest times by the silly, self interested and juvenile posturings of high panjandrums who place the livelihoods of newts and reeds and rats and weeds above the well-being of the very people who pay their highly inflated salaries and bonuses.

From: James Sykes, North Milford Grange, Tadcaster.

WE have seen terrible flooding in Somerset and river flows are being blamed. I live in the lower Wharfe Valley and if we got rainfall that Somerset has had we would suffer the same.

Floods we can accept but the length of time they stay is the problem and if trees are removed from river banks and silt from within, the velocity of the watercourse is faster and therefore the watercourse is faster and therefore the water gets away quicker.

The Environment Agency is blamed for main watercourses but many internal drainage boards are infected with the same virus – no common sense and poor management.

From: Frank W Pate, Hargill Court, Redmire, Leyburn.

THE Environment Agency has finally listened to the pleas and demands of the residents of the Somerset Levels and a few enlightened MPs and agreed to carry out a limited amount of dredging of the local rivers 
which are clogged by up to 42 per cent with sand and silt. This will not prevent future flooding, they say.

In which case why is it, that before the practice of regular dredging was abandoned, the Somerset Levels never experienced flooding on the scale of the last few years? Surely the local residents and farmers who have lived there for many years are better able to judge what is or is not the best means of increasing the capacity of the rivers?

From: MB Fletcher, Flanders Court, Thorpe Hesley, South Yorkshire.

I AM not impressed with that useless Ken Clarke who dismisses the Somerset villagers and others because his rotten Cabinet did nothing for these people. Most have lost their homes and lands and a lot of money and will be ruined.

In the meantime we send billions abroad to under-serving and corrupt governments.

Just 20 per cent of that money would have been enough to put these British people back on their feet and also pay for flood defences. Makes you proud to vote Tory, does it not?

Never again.

From: Barrie Frost, Watson’s Lane, Reighton, Filey.

FORMER MP Chris Smith, now Lord Smith and chairman of the Environment Agency, said in a recent speech on flood prevention that Britain did not have a bottomless pit of money to pay for flood defences to protect both town and country. Should we be saving front rooms or farmland, he asks?

This has puzzled me, for if we have so little money that we are unable to protect all of our own people and businesses from the appalling flooding which has recently occurred, particularly in south-west England, where does the money come from to finance far more dubious causes.