Last night around 35 of us met in Randwick Village Hall for the Ruscombe Brook Action Group's AGM. We had 4 speakers and I thought I'd managed to avoid any speaking but did end up with a minor part fielding the couple of questions at the end....anyhow I am possibly too tired to write this now but here goes......
Photo: One of the first slides reminding us of the problems we faced - and while things like the sewage incidents are much reduced we still have many of these problems to tackle
The evening was chaired by the groups Chair Zarin Hainsworth and kicked off with Helen Patrick (pictured), Vice-Chair of the group doing a summary of why we started and some of the achievements over the years plus some of the challenges. It was good to be reminded of some of the stuff as the group was fairly unique - Severn Trent said we were the only such group in their region and we've not come across others set up in the same way - although the local Slad Brook Action Group have to some extent modeled themselves on us. See here an article from a year ago summarising some of the stuff.
We then had Julian Jones from Water 21 with the main talk of the evening. Some of the stories from previous talks were there like the work on sewage and how dangerous it could be, the fact that many sustainable schemes using SUDs are much cheaper - in the case of this slide of a 2km square 'reedbed' approach to dealing with industrial waste water in Sudan - the costs were 90% cheaper than conventional means and produced drinking water at the end and reforested arid areas.
Anyhow the main target of Julian's talk were the water companies and to some extent other bureaucracies like local councils who are failing to lead on this issue - often resorting to old out-dated concrete engineered solutions when what was needed was Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.
That was followed by Illaria Pretto (pictured), the MSc student from Trento University in Italy who is working on both Slad and Ruscombe Brooks who gave an interesting brief talk about how she is working from the Environment Agency's offices to study and measure the Slad brook first.
I found it very interesting to see how she measured the maximum water that could occur and is now looking at how attenuation ponds further up the valley could hold all that water. The picture shows one of her slides where the amount of water was calculated
She was followed by UCL student Adam Broadhead (pictured) who is working primarily with Ryeford and Bridgend flood groups. He looked at how attenuation further upstream - including on the Ruscombe Brook could help reduce water flows and the flooding further downstream (see picture).
Plus how in the second part of the story the meadows along the valley like at Ebley are invaluable areas for water to soak away and again reduce the flooding - see last photo.
After the talks we enjoyed much chat and many local cheeses - some great ones from the Godsells.
It has been quite a journey with this group over the last 3 years - indeed 3 years ago I hardly knew anything about water but meeting people like Julian Jones and many others has led to much learning. It is sort of frightening how we can become so disconnected from water and understanding how it all works - I was told a story yesterday morning about someone using pesticides near the head of the spring and talking to a developer last week I was shocked that they had so very little understanding of best practice re water management - we all have a lot to learn or should that be re-learn?