The Importance of River Management Post COVID-19

ADA calls on Defra floods minister to recognise importance of river management and maintenance for food supply, post COVID-19.

Food supply chains may be impeded unless the strategic importance of river management and maintenance is recognised and supported by Government, Defra minister Rebecca Pow MP has been advised in a letter from ADA chairman, Robert Caudwell.

Innes Thomson (ADA chief executive), Rebecca Pow MP, Robert Caudwell (ADA chairman).
Innes Thomson (ADA chief executive), Rebecca Pow MP, Robert Caudwell (ADA chairman).

ADA, the membership organisation for drainage, water level and flood risk management authorities, warns that neglecting strategically important activities on watercourses in the spring and summer months could have serious consequences, not only for the agricultural sector, but also for more vulnerable people, communities and businesses.

In the letter to Ms Pow, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Defra with responsibilities for floods and water, Mr Caudwell welcomes Defra’s keen interest in maintaining food supplies as ‘we all try to bring the COVID-19 outbreak under control’.

While many are understandably focusing on the ‘here-and-now’ during the current crisis, ADA is looking ahead to the autumn and winter period 2020.

Mr Caudwell strongly advocates the importance of planning ahead and taking actions in the coming months, to minimise the risks of flooding when people, businesses and the environment will be least able to cope, in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 situation.

Calling on Defra’s support, Mr Caudwell states that reduced maintenance and management may also seriously hamper the recovery of various areas which experienced considerable suffering to people, business disruption and environmental harm as a result of the recent winter floods.

“ADA considers that the maintenance of our watercourses falls into the category of ‘Strategically Important Assets’ as defined in guidelines issued by the Environment Agency during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Mr Caudwell.

“I very much hope that, in the light of the warnings from the chiefs of the World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation and United Nations, Defra will support us in ensuring that the basics of our excellent water management system continue to be prioritised, with full awareness of the future potential risks we face if we do not.”

The letter follows an earlier meeting with the Minister, along with Mr Caudwell and ADA chief executive Innes Thomson, during which Ms Pow talked of her support for ADA’s continued commitment to a total catchment approach to water and flood risk management.


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