16th August, 2016
The flooding event in 2014 focused people’s minds on the issue of water management in our catchments. Flooding can affect entire catchments or just stretches of minor roads or individual properties. Most people were affected in some way during this event and we need to remember this going forward. The idea of addressing run off and implementing upper catchment storage techniques is something I have always been keen to promote. The Hills to Levels project has allowed us to combine local experience and knowledge with different funding pots to create a more joined-up approach to water management to include Natural Flood Management measures.
Finding practical solutions has always been a great part of my work. Recently I have been involved with trialling temporary techniques such as sediment filter fencing, compost socks and coir rolls to address short-term issues such as soil run off from arable fields. These techniques have proven to capture silt run off, store water and filter the water slowly. It is not the solution for every site but can help prevent silt going down a stream or meaning that a road is closed due to mud on road. It then allows for soil management to be addressed or to tackle the source of the issue.
Farm visits involve discussing the current issues affecting it or other properties around it. This can take time as every farm is completely different. It is then a case of looking at what funding can be used to get in specialist advice and funding for capital work. In this catchment we are fortunate to be able to access the Farm Advice Framework, Catchment Sensitive Farming and more recently Countryside Stewardship. We have many examples where Natural Flood Management and other measures can be linked to such schemes. It is encouraging to see all the improvements I have helped advise on through these schemes over the years and seeing works carried out and completed.
Longer term plans such sediment ponds, rainwater harvesting, restoring historic water management structures will all help in the bigger picture. We all need to realise that we all have our own priorities but the Hills to Levels project allows us to get everyone thinking about their own contribution and that every parish, farm, property, stream has it part to play.
If you would like to know more about the Hills to Levels project head to www.hillstolevels.co.uk