The Talking Politics column with Councillor Barry Crossland

Strategy: There's got to be a better way to protect Calderdale.
Strategy: There's got to be a better way to protect Calderdale.

I trust information from organisations with no need to mislead or distort. The Met Office is such an organisation and they have forecast a rise in global temperatures with increased extreme weather.

In Calderdale we have already experienced extreme weather with the Boxing Day floods in 2015 and a very unusual year in 2018.

For the first time in 60 years of gardening I was watering plants and bushes in early November.

Governments, including our own, are not taking action to reduce greenhouse gases and concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing.

Hence, more extreme weather is more likely. While I think that we should try to move to a low carbon economy I recognise that most politicians and a majority of the population do not wish to.

For the people of Calderdale we need a strategy to cope with floods and drought.

Flooding breaks into two main categories, river flooding and flash flooding. Calderdale MBC seem to focus on river flooding and the strategy is to wall in the Calder supported by natural flood management.

Prior to the Boxing Day floods in 2015, Walsden Water was walled in. All this did was enhance the flooding downstream.

However, the same strategy is being persued in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.

An alternative strategy is to contain excess water. By locating containment facilities at appropriate locations, both river flooding and flash flooding can be reduced. Also, water is a valuable resource. By containing water it can be used later. Channelling water, leaky dams and natural flood management do nothing to cope with drought. Unlike politicians, I put my money where my mouth is. I have four water tubs with a capacity of about one cubic metre (220 gallons). Through 2018, I have collected and used about four cubic metres.

The cost of the tubs was £180 and I have saved £12 on my water bill, a better return than savings accounts.

With bigger containment structures the economics should be even better.

When it comes to river flooding Yorkshire Water own the key structures. Yorkshire Water are owned by international banks who are focused solely on the flow of profits. The reservoirs were built with public money and we should take back control.

Then water levels can be adjusted to cope with heavy rain when it is forecast.

I am not on my own in water utilisation. The National Trust collects rain water from its properties for garden use. New B&Q stores collect rain water and use on their plants and in the toilets.

Collecting water throughout Calderdale improves our capability of coping with floods. Then using that rain water makes us more resilient in coping with drought. Installing collection tanks at Calderdale schools and leisure centres for use in the toilets is just one idea.

Morrisons could collect water and use in the car wash. Golf clubs could collect rain to water the greens. Many individuals and businesses could contribute.

Although I have outlined a general strategy, the Environment Agency should be capable of coming up with a more sophisticated model.

This should include the volume of water in any valley for a certain amount of rainfall, and the carrying capacity of each stream and river in Calderdale.

With computers and modelling software this should not be too difficult.