Submitted by James Dalton on Fri,06/27/2014

Flooding is the most common hydrological hazard – with global economic losses from floods averaging US$3 billion a year, predicted to become US$1 trillion a year by 2050. Over the last 100 years they have also been the most fatal disasters, ruining families, communities, and at times, setting back national development and progress.

A recent study suggests that the annual cost of flooding across Europe could become €23.5 billion by 2050. At current prices this represents more than the annual GDP of 93 countries. And in reality, it’s an insurance bill. It is an astounding number given the human, financial, and technical capacity that exists across Europe. Two-thirds of these total costs are due to socio-economic growth – we have as a continent more people living in flood-prone areas, and everyone has more to lose because of higher incomes.

It’s a point echoed by Lord Smith, Chairman of the UK Environment Agency following the devastating floods in the UK this winter and spring. ‘Think about the risk that your property faces’ he said. Not an easy task if you have little choice where you live, but equally it’s a logical question. Ten years ago we bought a house in the UK, but only after my wife, who worked for the Environment Agency at the time, had checked out the online flood risk maps.

The Environment Agency (EA) has come under a lot of pressure in the UK for how it deals with protection from flooding. Critics – understandably those immediately affected, sometimes disastrously – have voiced their anger at the lack of river dredging and protection, a lack of finance available for the EA to ‘do their job’. It has also provided a political platform, with the Environment Secretary and Communities Secretary both venting steam – calling the lack of...Read more