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Geomorphology workshop identifies ways of improving flood water management in Cumbria

cumbrian floodIndependent experts from leading universities across the country have attended a workshop in Cumbria to share their knowledge to identify ways of improving flood water management in the county.

The Environment Agency invited the academics to the geomorphology workshop, one of a series of knowledge sharing events, which are being recorded for use with other groups. The aim is to share the latest findings and understanding of topics critical to managing flood risk with communities and organisations across Cumbria.

Improving the way knowledge and experience is shared to benefit all communities was a key aim of the Cumbria Floods Partnership, set up in the aftermath of flooding caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015. The Cumbria Flood Action Plan, produced in June last year includes five actions linked to working together and sharing information to manage flood risk.

Experts in the field of Geomorphology – the study of the physical feature of the surface of the earth which is key to understanding the movement of flood water – from the Universities of Newcastle, Liverpool, Southampton, Durham and Kings College London presented their latest findings at Rheged in Penrith. Their research provides vital understanding which can be used to manage the risk.

Catchment Director Amy Heys said: “The Cumbria Action Plan takes a catchment approach to managing flood risk, from the source in the fells to the sea. Of the 105 actions identified by the partnership of communities, public, private and third sector, five focused on the benefits of working together to share information.

“It is crucial that we are using the learning from Storm Desmond and accessing the best information available to work closely with communities to manage flood risk.

“The Knowledge Sharing Programme brings together that collaborative approach, sharing information and data with communities, groups and organisations so together we can find ways of managing flood risk. The presentations have been recorded to form part of a knowledge sharing package that communities across Cumbria will be able to use to develop their own understanding of flood management and provide more opportunities for those affected by flooding to be involved.”

Workshops covering flood risk management, land use planning and working with natural processes to reduce flood risk are being planned for early this year.

Prof Richard Chiverrell, from University of Liverpool who presented at the workshop said: “Talking to people living in Cumbria today shows that communities are very aware we may be experiencing a flood-rich period, and the sediments in the region’s lakes allows us to assess in the context of the last 600-700 years how unusual and extreme this recent flooding is.”

Professor Andy Russell, Professor of Physical Geography, Newcastle University, said: “In Cumbria, many communities were severely impacted by the geomorphic response of Storm Desmond, floods which had huge power to erode large volumes of sediment, generating severe problems downstream. In many cases, this was exacerbated by the legacy of human modification of river channels and their flood plains over centuries.  It is important that geomorphologists work with local communities to manage the response of river channels to floods and thereby reduce risk.”

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