Tower Hamlets risks flooding if the council does not take responsibility for good drainage

3 September 2021

Recent extreme rainfall and flooding in Tower Hamlets have shown that the council’s water and flood management plan is half-hearted and short-sighted.

During spells of heavy rain in August, huge puddles appeared around the Lanfranc Estate. An expanse of standing water on Gernon Road in particular caused accessibility issues for residents of Hooke House, Wren House and Ardent House, and created a barrier to walking and cycling through the area.

The climate crisis is nearly on our doorstep

Intense and infrequent summer rainfall is set to become the new normal as the climate warms, according to scientists’ predictions, so good drainage management will only become more important. If we do not act now, we could face a situation where homes and businesses are needlessly flooded during spells of heavy rain.

The council’s current policy has been shown to underestimate this particular aspect of the coming climate crisis, however there is still time to act. We need to design our streets with climate resilience in mind, and this must include good drainage.


What should the council do right now?

1. Reduce concrete and ‘hard standing’. Concreted areas do not absorb water into the ground and instead channel it into the sewerage system which gets easily overwhelmed during intense downpours. We should invest in more green space and permeable street infrastructure to allow water to soak into the soil before flooding an area.

2. Design green spaces to absorb as much water as possible. Trees and shrubs absorb much more water than mown grass. The council should be planting trees now so that they are reaching maturity in 10 years’ time when this issue will become more urgent.

3. Invest in knowledge about water drainage. Council contractors should be trained to perform water drainage tests on all infrastructure projects like road resurfacing. Gernon Road has recently been resurfaced, and this type of test was clearly not done there.

4. Install rainwater harvesting on council homes. Given that rainfall will become more infrequent and intense, we can solve two problems in one by harvesting the rain that does fall to be used to flush our toilets, thereby putting less pressure on water-stressed rivers where we get our water from, like the River Lea.


What do you want to see?

Do you have ideas, thoughts, suggestions on the flood risk in your area? How do you think the council should be tackling this issue? Get in touch with us to make your voice heard.


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