Friday, November 27, 2009

Were the Cumbria floods man made?

As Cockermouth clears up after the floods and tries to get back to some semblance of normal life there's a rumour going round the town that the flooding was caused - or at least made worse than it need have been - by human action. It is being suggested that United Utilities, which owns Thirlmere lake and operates it as a reservoir, opened the sluice gates to release water into the River Greta which arrived in Keswick and then Cockermouth just at the time when the water level was already critical. This might explain why people who were there talk of the water level increasing with unbelievable rapidity.

Local people have been asking for years for the water level in Thirlmere to be maintained at a lower level to allow it to act as a sink for periods of heavy rainfall. But United Utilities has refused, being more interested in protecting its water asset for the benefit of its shareholders.

Meanwhile Cumbria County Council's new chief executive, whose salary is reported to be £170,000 per year (that's getting on for $300,000 for my US readers) has given her opinion that the disaster that occurred here is an example of climate change caused by global warming. I'm not sure why a local authority serving a population the size of Cumbria's needs an official whose salary is practically as much as the total remuneration of the British Prime Minister. But it might be better if she got on with the job of making decisions about what is going to be done and leave the unqualified pontificating to people like me who are happy to do it for nothing.

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