Thursday, October 01, 2009

Just not prepared for rain

In 2003, a plan was set out to reduce the effects of flooding in the Valencian region. There were to be 151 projects with the Valencian Government undertaking 85 of them, the Hydrographical Confederation of Júcar 20, 13 were to be joint projects and 33 were to be carried out by city councils.

The Valencian Autonomous Government has only completed 18 of their projects, the CHJ has done better completing 60% of the work it set out.There are so many outstanding projects that it is not surprising the latest rains have caused chaos, flooding and misery for people.

Although the centre of Alicante is now well protected against flooding, there are zones which still suffer when the rain is heavy. On parts of the Orihuela coast rain water and sewerage share the same drainage system so you can imagine what problems that causes. The CV 905 into Torrevieja is a nightmare. Even the motorways suffer and have to be closed in sections.

The problem is, that for over 90 percent of the time, the drainage systems just sit there, dry as a bone doing nothing. It is only when the conditions are extreme that they get tested. Then the flaws in design, the inadequacy of the measures taken and the failure of maintenance become apparent.

Everyone hopes there will not be a repeat of the 1997 storm that caused so much damage but the truth is, with global warming, there is every possibility of similar if not even worse storms in the future and the area is not prepared for that.

City planning pressure, over urbanisation and lack of planning for drainage systems have all contributed to the situation. Now, the area is paying the price for that lack of foresight.

It isn’t just the road network that is badly protected, many of the buildings are unable to cope with the intense storms especially those with flat roofs. At the dentist’s,where we visited yesterday, they had water seeping in to the electric panel. In order to keep operating, they had to constantly try and dry out the panel; resetting the trips whenever they cut the supply out. In MacDonalds they had water coming in through the ceiling above the tills. Half the tills were covered with plastic bags to protect them and one of the assistants was constantly mopping up to keep the area safe.

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