As Sheffield clears up after the second major flood in two years, questions need to be asked about the capacity of our drains. It is clear that global warming is already bringing far more extreme weather events to our city. Our drains just can’t cope with the amount of water that these flash floods bring. I remember people talking about the 2007 floods saying they were a one in a hundred year event- but here we are again two years later, and I’m drying out my cellar again.But I’m one of the lucky ones, at least I’ve got a cellar! Other folk are clearing up houses that they’ve only just got straight from the last flood having had sewage water in the main living rooms. It must be heartbreaking. So what should be done? Firstly Yorkshire Water should be investing in improving the drains- we need to plan for the expected increase in these flash floods. Secondly insurance companies could do a lot to help. Many people get discounts for having good security. Why can’t we have discounts for having a water butt and/or a green roof? If lots of householders could be persuaded to make these simple improvements it would take a lot of pressure off the drains. Thirdly we need to stop paving over our green spaces. Sheffield City Council have just removed one of the few patches of grass in the city centre as part of the “regeneration” of Tudor Square by the Crucible- and householders all over the city have converted their front garden into a drive for the car. The less soil and grass we have, the worse these flash floods will become. Perhaps there should be a Council Tax discount for householders that maintain a permeable garden.
The Greens have been arguing for years that we need to do more to prepare for global warming. Unfortunately as yet very little has been done and we will be increasingly at the mercy of the elements.