Why choose flood prevention as a blog topic? Well, for one there’s the fact of global warming (whether through human industrial and fossil fuel activity or as a result of bovine flatulence) which will raise sea levels. This will have a knock-on effect on water tables and rise in river water levels. Rising water levels must be of particular concern when one considers the situ of nuclear power reactors by rivers and the sea.
Secondly, there’s the over-use of culverting of rivers and subsequent building on flood plains. I’ve a particular passion in this area. It comes from my experiences from years of activity in Bristol (UK) community movements such as; “Free the Frome” (improvements to the city’s 2nd river, the River Frome) and “BREATH”, Bristol’s anti-IKEA campaign (amongst other things BREATH was against the covering of a huge open area of the East Bristol flood plain). Everyday Bristolians carry on with their lives little realising that one morning they’ll wake up to see their city centre under 2m+ of water. This will happen with the unfortunate combination of: flood waters from the surrounding countryside entering the Avon, Frome and Malago rivers; extreme high tide in the River Severn; and winds from the South West preventing the Severn and the Avon from discharging their waters.
Well, enough ranting. The interesting thing about living in France is that, rather than depending on community groups lobbying to bring about change, the public here seem more geared towards using: (i) the political (and higher direct tax) systems of communes, regional, national and EU representation to bring about change; (ii) an openness and respect for experts, scientists and professionals who, in public, develop strategies to handle problems and community issues. For example:
Current Loire River protection developments
As well as the magnificent work being carried out by Loire nature, FloodProBE is a research project supported by the European Commission addressing “Technologies for Improved Safety of the Built Environment in Relation to Flood Events”. FloodProBE started in November 2009 and runs for a period of 4 years
Six different sites across Europe have been chosen as pilots for flood prevention work. These are Orléans (on the Loire), Prague, Trondheim, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and Hull, Humber
The Conseil Général de Loiret started a preliminary investigation of flood risk and its management in the “Middle Loire” shortly after the turn of the century. This preliminary stage which scopes and quantifies the work associated with flood risk management has also identified the organisational requirements within the Conseil Général de Loiret which employes over 2,000 people. The second, operational stage of the project is now under way. This work is being carried out in parallel with the Agglomération d’Orléans” and Ville D’Orléans. The State (Prefecture) is also carrying out similar work and the “Etablissement Public Loire” which works over all the Loire river basin and which includes 19 “départements”, has included actions in its priorities which financially and technically support the resilience of public infrastructure networks. The aim is to develop the emerging dynamic at all grades of the administration to address this issue of resiliency within the public services, utility organisations and the wider public.
The image (right) shows recent flooding in Orléans.
Well, that’s my take on the situation after three years of living in the Loire valley. Any comments?
Websites of possible interest:
- Nicolas-Gérard Camp’huis, Flood risk management team on the Loire river basin, France, 2003 ~ http://www.ecologic-events.de/floods2003/de/documents/NicolasGerardCamphuis2.PDF