Thursday, November 22, 2007

Flood - UK (Hull) NOV

Many homes in Hull were damaged in the summer floods becaue Yorkshire Water failed to act on warnings dating back to 1996, a damning report says.

More than 10,000 properties were affected when heavy rains overwhelmed the city's drainage system on 25 June.

An independent review says that if the water company had heeded warnings about a pumping station "some properties in Hull would have not been flooded".

Yorkshire Water said no drainage system could have coped with the deluge.

"It is wrong to say that homes would have escaped flooding if we simply had bigger pumps," the company said in a statement.

"We are not complacent, however, and will act immediately to make further significant investment to upgrade and improve the resilience of our infrastructure."

Hull City Council commissioned the report from an independent body chaired by Tom Coulthard, professor of physical geography at Hull University.

It concluded that more than 8,600 homes, 1,300 businesses and 90 schools suffered flood damage as a result of June's heavy rain.

"Using evidence from a series of reports commissioned by Yorkshire Water, we have noted that over a period of 11 years, a series of clear recommendations relating to the condition, design and operation of the drainage and pumping systems of Hull were made to Yorkshire Water," it said.

"For some of these recommendations Yorkshire Water was unable to produce any records of, or confirm action taken, in respect of this advice.

"We believe that had these recommendations been implemented the impacts of the floods in June 2007 would not have been as severe."

The report added that: "Until a permanent solution is built, Hull is served by an under-capacity, sub-standard system helped out by two 40-year-old pumping stations."

Much of the criticism relates to a pumping station at Bransholme which broke down after it was flooded.

Because it was unable to pump away water, homes and businesses nearby remained flooded longer than those in other areas and 1,000 households suffered extensive damage.

Capacity 'overestimated'

The report recommends the pumping station be modernised and its capacity increased.

Three reports dating back to 1996 had recommended the station be improved and there were suggestions that a second should be built.

The water company is also accused of repeatedly overestimating the capacity of its equipment to deal with heavy rain, a failing which the report said had probably contributed to thousands of pounds worth of damage to properties which could have been protected from flooding.

Yorkshire Water said: "The issue is not about building bigger pumps, but of the capacity of the drains and the sewers to cope with the intensity and concentration of the rainfall in these extreme weather events.

"We cannot pump water if the water cannot get to the pumps because the drains and sewers are full to capacity.

"This report should have been a catalyst for change and better co-operation and we are disappointed that it has chosen to focus instead on the shortcomings of our pumping infrastructure rather than the bigger picture of protecting Hull from future flooding and the effects of climate change."

Were you affected by the floods in Hull? Should Yorkshire Water have taken more preventative action? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below. - Source

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