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NeoPatrick: remember your Cookham/Marlow walk?

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Hi Neo, I was thinking about you this morning and your walk from Cookham to Marlow.

Due to the flooding in Berkshire, roads into/out of Cookham are closed. Marlow is also having problems. One Cookham access road is being opened for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

See a picture of hard-hit Cookham here:

Train service from Maidenhead has been affected (but on the other hand: )

One of our former neighbours tells us that the intersection at the end of our old street is deeply flooded (we didn't live anywhere near the river, but the intersection always flooded during heavy rains), the local green is a soggy mess and most of the park where we used to walk our dog is basically impassible.

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    I've been following the Thames flooding with interest. I grew up in Sunbury, which is flooded, got married in Staines, flooded, and worked in Datchet, flooded.

    Bits of Sunbury and Staines always used to flood slightly, but nothing like this.

    My husband follows a DJ who lives in a houseboat on Taggs Island. He is in danger of losing power now the river is so high. He has already had to cut the boat loose from one mooring point, and the gangway is useless.

    Hampton Court gardens are also flooded I believe, certainly the hotel across the river is, as are the meads at Runnymede. I can remember them flooding when I was a child, and they were still used as hay meadows, and winter floodplain, but they haven't been used like that for a very long time.

    AT least the Thames barrier is closed to hold back the tides.

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    "AT least the Thames barrier is closed to hold back the tides."

    So far, all the Thames floods are upstream of where it becomes tidal. Though the barrier's been closed a number of times this winter, there's been next to no sea-driven flooding on the East coast.

    The problems are practically all on West-facing coasts, on inland flood plains or downstream on rivers fed by tributaries to the west. Although it's claimed that "January was the wettest on record", it turns out the records they're using go back only a century - which is just silly, since there are thousands of records going much further back.

    Certainly round here (where so far the rivers' limited movement into their flood plain don't make up even the biggest spread of water in the past ten years), virtually every bit of "flooding" is well within boundaries that have been marked for centuries as places buildings just don't get erected in - and has been draining away as fast as it always has.

    There's more than a hint that however much rain there's been, part of the problem is badly dredged rivers (allegedly because wildlife preservation has been given a higher priority than saving agricultural livestock) and buildings, or asphalt, going where they just shouldn't.

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    The problem is though Flanner that the tides are also high and prevent the river from getting rid of a lot of flood water. I know where the Thames is tidal - I grew up on it remember.
    The barrier has been shut to help get water down to the tidal area so that when it opens for low tide the water can flow out, and not back up at every tide, causing even more flooding and problems.
    The weirs are overloaded, the locks are open, just to get the water down the river. A high tide backs it all up the river again.

    The main problem is nothing to do with dredging, but lack of money spent on managing water.

    There is a lack of space for the water, and lack of dikes. Here we have summer and winter dikes. The winter dikes are further from the normal riverbed, and allow for what are called uiterwaarden to flood in winter. In summer these are grazed, and silaged. Proper water meadows. That is what is missing in the UK - too many homes built on old water meadows, and not enough flood protection.

    Farmers here, indeed everyone, with a ditch, stream or river on their land, are responsible for keeping that waterway clear of weeds. You will see farmers out with their tractors and special devices for clearing their ditches. You will see the local councils out doing the same.

    We have high dunes and salt marshes to help protect the coast, which are maintained and rebuilt regularly. They work better than hard seawall type defences and groins.

    If the UK spent even the same sum of money as the Netherlands every year (and I'm talking the actual sum, never mind the per capita rate) you wouldn't have as many problems as there are now.
    It is too easy to blame the Environment Agency for it all, without considering their funding, and how much it has been cut.
    Instead of throwing money at a problem after it happens it surely make more sense to spend a bit more every year and stop that problem ever happening, or at least greatly reduce the impact of it.

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