Flood risk and water use key issues for all communities says Lord Smith. Britain needs to plan now for more erratic, unpredictable and extreme weather patterns in the future, the Chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, His comments come following recent floods across England and Wales and at the launch of a report into climate adaptation in Britain. He highlighted that the recent extreme weather is typical of the kind of weather we should expect to see more frequently, based on climate predictions.
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Testing resilience to extreme weather
This year the wettest April to June on record, which saw many rivers rise to unprecedented levels, followed the driest 16 months on record in some parts of England – testing the country’s resilience to extreme weather. Severely depleted groundwaters, worryingly low reservoirs, dried up rivers and hosepipe bans were quickly followed by the wettest April, May and June ever recorded, with flooding having devastating impacts on homes and livelihoods across the country.
Lord Smith will say: “The weather extremes which we’ve seen this year – with widespread floods almost immediately following a long term drought – have brought the importance of resilience into sharp focus. Climate change science tells us that these are the sort of weather patterns we are going to have to get used to, so taking action today to prepare and adapt our homes, businesses, and infrastructure is vital.
“The Environment Agency is working to improve its flood forecasting and early warning systems and is improving flood defences to protect communities. Local Authorities and other partners also have a key role in improving community resilience and incident response. And we must all work together to plan better for surface water flooding after torrential rainfall.
“But we have also seen some of the warmest years on record in the last decade and water resources in some parts of England are under increasing pressure. We therefore need government and organisations to work together on long term solutions to water resources and efficiency.”
The Environment Agency is at the forefront of efforts to increase the country’s resilience to flooding and water scarcity, both now and future climate conditions. Its new Climate Ready support service aims to help organisations from businesses to health authorities and local authorities prepare, by providing them with advice on future risks and the steps needed to adapt. The Environment Agency continues to work with water companies, industry and the farming community to identify ways to conserve, share and make the most efficient and effective use of water.
Since the start of May over 3,000 properties have been flooded, 55,500 properties have received a flood warning from the Environment Agency and over 31,000 properties were protected by flood defences, during what’s now being referred to as the ongoing summer 2012 floods.
The Adaptation Sub-Committee report provides an assessment of current progress to manage risks from flooding and water scarcity.