Earlier this week, in a post entitled Draingate a Crouchender wrote on social media about how the high number of blocked drains in the borough is exacerbating the flooding we've been experiencing.
Brian Bowles wrote,
Following the original flood on 12 July I made an assessment of the blocked drain covers / gullies in the roads leading up to Muswell Hill Rd. from Park Rd. This is by no means definitive but it is representative. As most people are aware all these roads are at a level higher than Park Rd. with a steep gradient down. And so, if the drains covers are blocked, then the water will flow over them to reach the lowest point.
Brian then went on to detail the following:
I wonder what the situation is like in Harringay?
On Monday, the Leader of the Council issued a statement about the flooding:
For the second time in as many weeks, Haringey has been impacted by flooding and we sympathise with all those affected.
This is further evidence – if it were needed – that the Climate Emergency is a reality. This means that these two flooding events are unlikely to be the only ones that we will experience here in our borough.
It also serves as a reminder that London’s Victorian sewer system was not designed, or built, to deal with the volume of water that it has been asked to cope with during these weather events.
Cllr Ahmet then goes on to detail the emergency response over the weekend.
Of course, ideally, we'd be in a situation when the emergency response isn't required because the drains are adequately maintained and it looks like this hasn't been an area that's been prioritised.
So, what about the situation in Harringay? Now might be a good time to be a squeaky wheel. So if you're aware of any blocked drains in our neighbourhood, do report them through the various reporting channels the council provide.
I'm old enough to remember when the Metropolitan Water Board used to go round regularly flushing out main street drains and sewers - you'd come across gangs of guys and a machine with a long hose poking down into street gratings or drain covers, often late at night - but anecdotal evidence suggests privatised Thames Water stopped this kind of routine maintenance in the drive for profits many years ago (along with baiting for rats... but that's another story).
A Thames Water employee also told me that the sudden increase in mains pressure early in the morning (it's reduced overnight when fewer people need water) rather than a gradual return to full pressure, as used to be the case, is a major reason for burst mains, because Victorian pipes can't take the sudden surge. Though that's not relevant to storm flooding, it suggests a lack of collective management memory and expertise which may influence TW's overall management of its mains and sewerage systems.
Great fun as a kid watching the sludge gulpers at work!
'Sludge gulper' is more surface water and the gulley drains, which is council responsibility.
Thames Water for the sewers. Not sure if they use the 'sludge gulper' for that or not?
Had it out on Sunday to try and unblock gulley drains after that flood.
Sadly I know more about this than I want to now :-(
The previous posts here identify a lot of the reasons for flash flooding. The overwhelming one is the increase in frequency and intensity of "extreme weather events", in this case very heavy rainfall in a short time. As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more water, so when a storm occurs, the intensity of rainfall is much higher. It is apparent from weather events over the last couple of years that the problem is not only getting worse, but also at an increasing rate. I suspect that over the current decade, we will see another big increase in extreme weather events. It would be nice to think that would make the government wake up, increase the rate of moving to "zero carbon emissions", and also invest heavily in ameliorating the problems already built in to the system. I fear that in London we can look forward to a lot more heatwaves each year, and far more instances of flash flooding. It's really not very cheerful.
There was a blocked drain in Harringay Gardens this week. Two neighbours (Greek) went out with poles and worked on it until it was unblocked.
I think the blocked drains epidemic is more to do with a year of low maintenance due to poor staffing levels because of the endemic. Attributing it to Climate change is stretching the point. Considerably.
If you've got one near you, do like my neighbours ...get the poles out...
Well done your neighbours. Harringay Road is one of the Harringay roads that used to flood regularly in the first half of the last century.
Sapphire blue, I want to thank you for your comment above. Not because I entirely agree with what you wrote. But because I partly agree and appreciate the logical way you observe and frame the problem. I find it illuminating and very helpful.
I say this not because I doubt your own observation or the effectiveness of your neighbours' poles. On the contrary I've done exactly the same myself, and with other people. (Like Martin Ball below,)https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanstanton/48082830493/
Your framing of the question is practical and logical. Even better, it produced a solution which worked in real time on a real street.
The issue for me is not that you and your neighbours are "wrong" but that there needs to be a dialogue between this immediate street-level problem solving and those who think there are at the same time and in the same places other things going on which need discussion and action.
Water and flooding is in many ways an ideal medium for such a collaborative dialogue. Because we can see flooding and its impacts far more plainly and readily than other problems. By contrast, newspapers and websites often illustrate air pollution from vehicles with photos of an exhaust pipe with a visible puff of smoke. When the worst impacts for, say, a child in a buggy at exhaust pipe level are mainly invisible. Or visible only after lung damage is done.
There's a similar weakness with the well-known allegory about upstream prevention of problems which you may know.
It describes rescuers jumping into a river to save a someone carried along by the current and at risk of drowning. Then one rescuer decides to go upstream: "to see who's pushing them in".
The weakness being an assumption of "bad actors" causing intentional personal harm to others. Which is often not the case, And certainly not the case with someone concreting over their garden to park a car.
A re-think is called for of how we engage effectively and creatively with one another to understand and solve problems. And even more in how health and governmental agencies engage with the public. Getting angry with anti-vaxxers doesn't work.
So thanks again.
I think we have a combination of factors what make Green Lanes in particular prone to flooding
I can’t see how we are going to decrease volume so what’s left open to is to increase capacity and maintain it well. If a wetter climate in on the cards (and all metrics indicate it is) increasing capacity and improving maintenance has to start now.
One thing that makes no. 1 a lot worse is concreted front gardens. That can be fixed...slowly...eventually.
I agree 100% with you and Michael Anderson. It's clear that two things that could be tackled quickly with little or no cost are: concreting over of front gardens (usually for parking cars); and discharge of waste from restaurants etc. I feel strongly that if commercial businesses are making a lot of money (and the rate at which the numbers of restaurants is growing is surely a sign of this), then they can afford to pay more to the Council or Thames Water for disposing of all the extra waste. Anything that can be done should be done as soon as possible, because it is apparent that flash flooding from extreme weather events (exceptionally heavy rain in a very short period) is going to happen much more frequently, due to the warming of the atmosphere.
Wonder what difference the Flood storage tanks made, in Duckets common . Woodside park
Which was built to hold water during heavy down pours
Do remember during my Cleansing days. Going to sites with pole and Rake to clear blocked drains
Also remember days when street drains was cleared several time a year . Would be a issue these days , to get access to drains with Parked Vehicles
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