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ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT


Current challenges in risk management


Justin Taberham, director of policy at CIWEM, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, who in the May/June 2012 edition of PSE explained the urgent need for an integrated water management strategy, here explores the problem in the context of the recent fl oods.


The June 2012 fl oods in Preston W


e are in the midst of strange times for fl ood risk management. We have fresh


new legislation in terms of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and there are many areas of policy and practice (such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and local partnerships) which are moving us positively towards the ultimate goal of integrated water management. On the other hand, we have the political move towards ‘small government’ and deregulation (‘better regulation’ to politicians) which in some ways is undoing the positive legislative movement.


Superimposed on this legislative change is the actual ‘on the ground’ situation where we are facing the impacts of climate change – more extreme weather, droughts and fl oods. June 2012 had parts of the UK fl ooded at the same time as hosepipe bans and drought. As recently as the last weekend in June we saw extraordinary levels of rainfall in parts of northern England, with 50-100mm in some places, causing surface water and fl uvial fl ooding. With the threat of climate change and the predictions that rainfall intensity will increase by up to 30% by 2115, and the extra pressure being placed on existing drainage infrastructure with new housing developments planned across many parts of the UK, it is more important than ever that we manage water sustainably.


The major development of the 2010 Act is the increased role of local authorities in fl ood risk management and this could have signifi cant benefi ts in terms of delivering sustainable water management. Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA) have the key role and they


68 | public sector executive Jul/Aug 12


are normally the county councils or unitary authorities. In some avenues, this new role caused signifi cant concern, as many local authorities appeared poorly prepared, with limited resources and a high proportion of staff


at late stages in their careers.


In response to this assessment, Defra has developed a project for capacity building for local authorities in fl ood risk management which has delivered a suite of workshops, online e-learning materials, educative support and subsidies for local authority attendees at CIWEM fl ooding conferences.


The most recent development is the Flood Portal, which was launched in June 2012 at the CIWEM Surface Water Management


conference: local.gov.uk/fl oodportal


This portal is a key resource for those involved risk


in the fl ood management


and it also links to


Flownet


community, which is a collection of practitioners who raise, discuss and resolve key issues.


It is clear that the Defra project can deliver


training,


workshops and materials, but in the longer term,


local authority fl ood professionals


need to become part of the ‘global sector’ that includes consultants, Government departments, manufacturers, academics and others.


www.


The portal and its community are of massive benefi t but in order to fully integrate with the sector, my view is that joining a professional body like CIWEM will help deliver professional development, networking and knowledge sharing within local authority fl ooding staff.


What are the key issues in the sector?


CIWEM organises several conferences each year that bring together large and diverse audiences to discuss key issues in fl ooding, and the latest conference on surface water management in June 2012 considered these.


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