Flood Hazard Management: British and International Perspectives

By John Handmer | Go to book overview

APPENDIX:
A NOTE ON THE RELEVANCE OF US EXPERIENCE TO BRITAIN

Nigel W. Arnell

Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford

Rutherford Platt's paper has provided an illuminating introduction to regional organisations in the United States devoted to reducing flood losses and it is interesting to consider the lessons for floodplain management in England and Wales. Numerous aspects of both the form and function of North American regional flood management authorities are of relevance.

Regional flood management authorities in the United States are tailored in size to suit the problem in question, and the bigger the area of concern-in practice a metropolitan area-the larger the regional authority in terms of both geographic scale and budget. Boundaries are drawn to exclude both separate urban centres and rural areas with their 'competing' flood problems. The regions are managed by locally-elected (in Chicago's Metropolitan Sanitary District (MSD), for example) or locally-appointed (in the Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, for example) commissioners or directors. They are thus subject to local political and public control. This is in contrast to Local Land Drainage Committees in England and Wales which are dominated by members appointed at the national or county level. Also, the US regions are funded by direct value-related taxes on property; and this again differs from the situation regarding land drainage in England and Wales, where funds come from county councils, although other water services such as supply are funded directly by property taxes.

American flood management regions are generally single-purpose authorities, concerned solely with flood management (MSD, however, is also involved in-and was created to deal with-pollution control), and thus do not have to compete for resources either with other aspects of water management or public service provision. On the other hand, this focus on flood problems may mean that floodplain management is divorced from such related issues as the maintenance of water quality, the provision of recreational facilities and urban renewal.

Urban flood protection in England and Wales is inextricably linked with land drainage for agricultural improvement. By excluding rural areas, regional

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