Ecological water management does call for the return of dry to wetland, of up to 5% of our landscapes. – though in practice commiting just 1% of any river catchment area to additional water storage will protect against any likely flood. The EU Water Framework Directive issues the novel challenge of “restoring pre-human intervention standards for all EU surface waters”.
The pre-human UK landscape was around 25% wetland – and is presently less than 2%. Functioning, working wetlands can be arranged in a variety of permutations, many simple seasonal swales and impoundments, for financial benefit of landowners and at very low cost.
A dispersed, impounded or otherwise, ‘headwater down’ approach to flooding is also appropriate to drought (rain water harvesting) in arid regions and might reasonably now be proposed as the universal compensatory hydraulic model within all river catchments wherever water cycle has been disrupted- all around the world.
Further, that the planning processes, funding and of course support for such works originate within, and are all controlled at a local level (mutualisation, local pensions).
A fundamental point here is that if sound ecological land / water management principles are adopted generally – many aspects of municipal water management (social benefit) become automatically available and are integral gratis to the wider catchment approach, as with:
- A maximised redevelopment of local watercourses for hydro (including pump storage), fisheries, irrigation etc, could fund creation of flood storage capacity (and strengthen local pensions).
- Extensive organic farming (productivity benefited by temperature buffering & irrigation) can increase spring water availability – while providing infiltration & flood control (the bulk of river flooding is agricultural run off).
- Sewage biomass plantations benefit 50% better yield, at 90% less cost. 100+ year operation, high value recovered water for re-use. Discounted sewerage bills.
- A progressively developing approach, ie starting with critical risks first, within an overall catchment balanced hydraulic model (rivers & sewers).
- A novel opportunity to develop and promote the financial and economic models/tools that might provide & underpin such grass roots engineering and provide safer locally based pension schemes.
It is important that communities get involved with improving their local environment – local action brings local benefit! Estimating the “numbers” is an important first step, the “numbers” include such criteria as the hydraulic model in order to prevent flooding and also the nutrient cycling model for any locality. These data provide a framework around which any subsequent works or undertaking can be planned.