05:00 Saturday 01 February 2014

UK flooding: 'Why are we wasting all this flood water?' asks Cambridgeshire councillor Mike Mason

Written byGARETH MCPHERSON

Housing developers should be made to store flood water in reservoirs so it can be used during droughts, a councillor has argued.

Cambridgeshire is low-lying which means when the ground is saturated surface water builds up with nowhere to go, but the county also gets some of the lowest rainfall in the country, often leading to droughts and hose pipe bans.

Mike Mason, a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Anglian (Central) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, said developers should make sure the surface water on their developments is channelled along pipes and put into reservoirs rather than put back into watercourses to send the problem elsewhere.

The independent councillor said: “I think that developers and so-called experts in and around Cambridge do not appreciate the problems of dealing with surface water in an area that is very low lying area with a low gradient, which means the water has nowhere to run to. Here the water sticks around.

“Because of the low gradient we always have too much water lying about when we do not want it and not enough in the summer, given that we have the lowest rainfall in the country.

“We should be paying much more attention to putting water in reservoirs up stream to relieve the areas of flooding and to store it as greywater for the times when we are short.

“Developers of course will resist this because double piping is expensive, but it’s what needs to be done.”

He added: “My concern is that we are not really doing enough to stop this flooding occurring again and we will see the traditional areas affected time and again in Girton, Waterbeach, and Riverside in Cambridge.

“We are going to get these extremely wet winters again.” He said it was impossible to predict exactly when climate change-induced flooding will happen, but the county should be prepared for this level of flooding every few years.

Twelve hours of rainfall was predicted overnight, which was poised to make 2014 the wettest January ever recorded in the county - beating the 98.4mm set before the Second World War in 1939.

A spokesman for the Met Office said Cambridgeshire had already seen 170 per cent (79mm) of its long term average rainfall for the month by January 28. The last time it breached the 80mm mark was in 2003.

The Met Office spokesman told the News yesterday: “You have got a fair dollop of rain coming your way, probably about 15-20mm, so it could come close to setting a January record.”

While the rain will ease to an extent, the main feature of today’s (Sat) weather will be wind speeds of up to 45mph, the Met Office reports. Sunday is expected to be mostly dry with sunny spells and temperatures up to 9C, but one or two showers are likely.

Monday is forecast to be dry and bright with rain in the evening with highs of 8C.

The predicted downpour led police to warn motorists to take care as standing water was likely to affect visibility and grip on the region’s roads.

The Environment Agency has flood alerts in place for the lower section of the River Cam, as well as tributaries including the Hobson and Coldham’s Brook, and the Great Ouse in the St Neots, St Ives and Earith area.

Yesterday’s warning read: “River levels in the Lower River Cam are high. Rainfall is anticipated from lunchtime today into the night, which may cause levels to rise again. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.”

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