United Kingdom flooding (December 2015): How a town in Yorkshire worked with nature to stay dry
Note to Reader:
Pickering is an ancient market town in North Yorkshire, England. It sits at the foot of the moors, overlooking the Vale of Pickering to the south. It is dissected by a series of south-flowing streams which include Pickering Beck. The latter has a history of flooding, which occurs on average every five years. However, out-of-bank flows are experienced on some sections of the watercourse annually.
Work with Nature, Not Against It
“While the sodden, submerged North of Britain was, literally, wringing out the old year last week, one notorious Yorkshire flood blackspot was celebrating staying dry,” wrote Geoffrey Lean, environmental commentator and reporter, in an article published by The Independent in the United Kingdom.
Geoffrey Lean pioneered the coverage of green issues long before they became fashionable and has won Scoop of the Year in the British Press Awards and the Martha Gelhorn Award for investigative journalism.
“Pickering, North Yorkshire, pulled off protection by embracing the very opposite of what passes for conventional wisdom. On it’s citizens’ own initiative, it ended repeated inundation by working with nature, not against it.”
“They built 167 leaky dams of logs and branches – which let normal flows through but restrict and slow down high ones – in the becks above the town; added 187 lesser obstructions, made of bales of heather and fulfilling the same purpose, in smaller drains and gullies; and planted 29 hectares of woodland. And, after much bureaucratic tangling, they built a bund, to store up to 120,000 cubic metres of floodwater, releasing it slowly through a culvert.”
Watch the Video
A team of researchers led by Professor Sarah Whatmore at the School of Geography and the Environment ran a pilot project in Pickering, North Yorkshire to study the effectiveness of a new methodology for flood management decision making.
An American Perspective
“This is a great story,” commented Colorado-based Paul Crabtree, leader of the Rainwater-in-Context Initiative. It is often the case that flooding issues are worst near the bottom of the watershed, and people erroneously focus their efforts there rather that analyzing the whole tributary area. The best solutions are very often found in the upper reaches.”
“That is basically how the Los Angeles River got lined with so much concrete. Now, to undo it, the heavy lifting needs to begin in the upper reaches.”
To Learn More:
To download and read the complete article, click on UK flooding: How a town in Yorkshire worked with nature to stay dry.